Whose photo would you rather see on the news, the killer or the hero?
Should we be deconstructing the life of an alleged murderer?
Or honoring the lives of the heroes?
In the aftermath of the Boston bombings many have suggested that the media attention paid to the suspected killers is playing into their evil, and that we should instead learn more about the lives of the heroes.
I disagree. It's a false choice.
Here's what would be the most helpful: a side-by-side comparison. I'd like to know why some young men in the crowd ran towards the victims, while two other young men are believed to have planted bombs and run away.
I'd like to know what their parents and extended families did differently. What were the differences in their friends, their schools, their churches? How were they treated by their peers and the world at large? Did they watch different TV shows? What kinds of books and movies were they exposed to?
I want to know why two boys went down one path, while others who lived in the same community chose differently.
To suggest that the suspected killers' behavior was solely the fault of their parents or religion ignores the complexity of human nature.
Human behavior is the result of millions of influences, from our first-grade teacher to our DNA.
Why are some teens overweight? Is it fast food's fault, or is it the parents'? It's all of it, fast food, their parents, their DNA, their family history, the home's proximity to McDonald's, the product placement embedded in their video games, too much couch time, mega high schools where average kids can't make the sports team, the Bible study teacher bringing donuts, and the school (and their friends' parents, including me) who order cheap pizza every time a group of three or more teenagers gathers in one place.
The two young men who allegedly committed the Boston bombings may have been violent, evil, literalist extremists. But even if so, they were violent evil literalist extremists who attended our public schools, and lived alongside our kids.
It's not morbid curiosity that propels me to try to understand their lives. It's a sincere desire to solve what is becoming a recurring event.
Because let's be honest here. These two aren't the only young men who have been charged with killing people.
How much longer are we going to keep pretending that we don't have a societal problem?
How many young men are going to kill people before we're willing to look at this holistically and start addressing all the root causes of this horrific problem?
I don't have sons. I have two daughters. I've never had to say "no" to violent movies and video games. I've never had to explain that hands are not for hitting. Neither of my two girls ever picked up a stick and pretended it was a gun.
But yet, my sweet, gentle 20-year-old daughter was standing 200 feet from the bomb blast in Boston.
If she had made a different decision coming out of the subway, she could have been the Boston University student who died. As it was, she saw both the evil and the heroes.
My baby is fine. But a lot of others aren't.
Nobody gives birth to a child hoping that one day they'll be a killer.
Twenty-something years ago, several babies were born. Some of them wound up creating violence; others tried to save people from it. I want to know why.
(c) Lisa Earle McLeod
Lisa Earle McLeod is a sales leadership consultant. Companies like Apple, Kimberly-Clark and Pfizer hire her to help them create passionate, purpose-driven sales forces.
She is the author of several books including Selling with Noble Purpose: How to Drive Revenue and Do Work That Makes You Proud, a Wiley publication, released Nov. 15, 2012. She has appeared on The Today Show, and has been featured in Forbes, Fortune and The Wall Street Journal. She provides executive coaching sessions, strategy workshops, and keynote speeches.
Follow Lisa Earle McLeod on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lisaearlemcleod