The Boston Marathon: Who Will Be the Next Mass Killer?

If the Boston Marathon, the symbol of a peaceful struggle and patriotism, became a field of blood last week, who can reassure our prosperous Western societies that this will not soon happen again?

Aboard a train which thousands of commuters take every day, on the bus or in the bus station itself, riding the subway, at the market, on a rush hour packed bridge, during the St. Patrick's or Gay Pride or Rose Parades?

Who can guarantee us that a simple college boy, a seemingly very typical individual, will not detonate some homemade bomb on a university campus at its graduation ceremony, in the courtyard of an elementary school at recess or at a public park where families gather for picnics on the weekend?

No one suspected that the alleged perpetrators of the mass killings in Boston were the two Chechen Muslims who appeared, if not enamoured with America, to, at least, have benefited from American society, having integrated into the educational system and living an apparently normal life.

Who can say that the next killer will not be someone who, believing that his homeland is being persecuted or mistreated, turns his hatred on the West and plants pressure cookers laden with deadly projectiles in order to kill or maim in the most deadly way possible?

However, what if the assassin is not a religious fanatic but a purely antisocial individual who enters Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and fires on children and teachers indiscriminately or a schizophrenic character who goes to a crowded Century 16 movie theatre in Colorado and shoots at will?

How can we protect ourselves and our children whom we encourage to go to school only to be assaulted by some crazy? Whom we take pride in watching run the Marathon only to witness them fall lifeless from an improvised explosive device? Whom we drive to the movies with their friends only to have them gunned down by some nut packing an arsenal of weapons?

Having lived in North America for over 20 years now, I have noticed that what we lack is a "humanistic" education in our schools. We teach history, geography, mathematics, physics and chemistry and we encourage and value competition, success, promotion and social recognition above all else.

However, surrounded by an absurdity of prosperity and enjoying this plutocratic society of consumption, we seem to be forgetting to instruct the most basic elements of human behavior, neglecting to emphasize the value of human life.

How can we be persuasive about the value of human existence, about the concept of "love thy neighbour," when our television screens are dominated by endless police dramas full of killing and destruction, or when our daily news programs are overwhelmed with images of bombings in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the world?

Perhaps, at least in part, we have no one but ourselves to blame for what is transpiring in our society. How can we expect to outline the preciousness of human life when we have totally marginalized the concepts of peace, solidarity, humanism, reconciliation, forgiveness and friendship and abandoned the idea of a "human-centered" education?

The tragedy of the Boston Marathon has taught us three things:

1) That we are not safe anywhere nor at any point in the Western World no matter what precautions our authorities enact;
2) That we do not know who the next mass killer will be, whether he or she will be a schizophrenic individual or some ethnic or religious fanatic;
3) That our police forces have the necessary resources to locate and apprehend killers but only after the fact.

The events of this week have made us aware that our society and our educational system should go back to focusing on people and not only on materialistic success.