THE BLOG

Beyond Bloodthirst

09/18/2013 02:35 pm ET | Updated Nov 18, 2013

The 13 deaths Monday at the hands of a gunman at the Navy Yard in Washington occurred the same morning that the Boston Globe published its survey findings about another senseless act of violence this year, the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15.

As a long-time resident of the Boston area, I vividly remember the pall of deep sadness that settled on this city after the alleged bombers left in their wake 264 casualties, including three dead. To this day, I get a little choked up when I walk past the finish line in Copley Square, where the tragedy occurred.

But the survey results were striking: "By a wide margin" of 57-33 percent, the Globe reported, "Boston residents favor life without parole instead of the death penalty" for the bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 20, if he is convicted.

Federal charges against Tsarnaev for allegedly using weapons of mass destruction do expose him to the death penalty (even though it is barred in Massachusetts under state law).

The marathon bombings were truly a psychic body-blow to Bostonians. We had long celebrated this gentle, harmless gathering of dedicated nonprofessional athletes, who train for months before convening here each spring from all over the world to embark on the 26-mile run.

A local clergyman told me at the time that he had ministered for days on end to person after person, who sought solace and support as they tried to work through their trauma over the bombings.

Metropolitan Boston is not known as a bouquet of shrinking violets. We are famous for wild passion about sports, fervent views on politics and crazed, emotional drivers. Harvard Square is situated in what's widely known as the most opinionated zip code in America. (Traverse the crosswalks at your own risk.)

And yet even in this lusty atmosphere, after suffering a deep emotional wound (and in too many cases physical injuries), the Globe poll shows that most people here do not favor exacting an eye for an eye.

Lawrence Watson of Dorchester told the Globe: "I'm a strong opponent of the death penalty because I feel it serves no purpose. It's not a deterrent."

Perhaps such attitudes are unsurprising in a commonwealth that has refrained from capital punishment 66 years.

But it's also the difference between sociopaths who wreak mayhem by their wanton use of weapons -- a pointless movie we Americans seem condemned to watch over and over -- and people who can see through the temptation of bloodthirsty vengeance after yet another eruption of gun violence.

We must look for solutions elsewhere.