You might think that this title is a misprint. Surely, you say, this guy must mean terrorism in Boston, or murder and mayhem in Boston. Those would be accurate titles. However, my aim is not to describe what happened, but to examine why it happened. And my answer is ingratitude.
My family on both sides came from Eastern Europe. Unfortunately for them, but fortunately for me, they were subjected to persecution, so they emigrated to the United States. My parents missed no opportunity to remind me how lucky I was to have been born in America. They repeatedly told me how fortunate I was to live in a free country, where people could remain in their religion, or convert to another religion, or become atheists. And so long as I was a good neighbor and a hard worker, no one cared, or even noticed.
My parents’ message sank in. True, I had the usual number of gripes. But I never forgot how much worse my life would have been in most other countries. Most important, I never compared my life with some imaginary ideal I had fantasized – which would inevitably cause me to be unhappy.
● I did not fantasize an imaginary government that provided me with everything I wanted and allowed me to do anything I pleased. Instead, I compared our government, inefficient though it is, to other governments, most of which are even more inefficient – and much more dictatorial. For example, Canada is a beautiful place. But if I lived there, I would have to be very careful what I wrote on my website, for fear of being hauled before the Human Rights Commission – aka Big Brother.
● I did not fantasize an imaginary society that cared for me but that made no demands on me. Instead, Instead, I compared our society with those elsewhere. A few years ago, France was hit by a heat wave. It was August, when most Parisians vacation at the seashore. But those who can’t – the poor, the elderly, the disabled – were stuck in non-air conditioned apartments, often in the hottest upper stories of apartment houses.
Many health-care workers were also on vacation. Hospitals were overwhelmed. But like all workers, medical personnel were forbidden by law to work more than a 35-hour week, even in a life-and-death emergency, even if they wanted to. Socialism took precedence over human life. As a result, at least 11,000 died unnecessarily – many more than in Hurricane Katrina. But the 35-hour week remains alive and well.
In short, I compared my life with actual alternatives – which made me grateful for the blessings I have.
On the other hand, we have the Tsarnaev brothers, their quiet but possibly radicalized father, and their radicalized and unbearably strident mother. And we have their three college buddies (two from Kazakhstan) who helped them get rid of evidence of their bomb plot. There are many ways to look at these low-lives, especially regarding the effects of extremist Islam. But I will concentrate on their colossal ingratitude.
The elder Tsarnaevs named their first son Tamerlan, after the bloodthirsty Mongol conqueror who celebrated his victories by building pyramids of thousands of skulls. Would you name your son for a mass murderer? Does this say something about the parents’ value system?
The Tsarnaevs are ethnic Chechens. But they did not live in Chechnya, a hotbed of terrorism. They lived in Dagestan, a neighboring region of Asiatic Russia. The Tsarnaevs came to America and were granted asylum on the grounds that they were persecuted in Dagestan. However, doubt is cast on this allegation by the fact that after the mother became a fanatically religious Muslim, the parents returned to Dagestan.
America granted the family asylum from alleged persecution. But was there any gratitude? Are you joking? There was only anger and contempt. Note that “asylum” has two meanings: (1) A refuge from persecution. (2) An institution for the unbalanced. Perhaps both meanings apply here.
The older brother, Tamerlan, was radicalized. We do not yet know whether this was due only to his mother plus his six-month trip to Russia (where exactly?), or whether a sleeper cell in America or a radical imam may have played a role. Apparently Tamerlan radicalized his younger brother Dzhokhar (also spelled Dzokhar).
Both brothers had been living in America since childhood. They went to public schools. They participated successfully in sports – Tamerlan in Golden Gloves boxing, and Dzhokhar in varsity wrestling. They attended a prestigious university with a beautiful campus. They dated, and Tamerlan married and fathered a child. To the best of our knowledge, neither suffered discrimination or lacked for anything – including a Mercedes SUV. Reportedly the family received over $100,000 in government benefits.
Nevertheless, the attitude of the mother and the two brothers can be summed up as: Gratitude? We don’t need no stinkin’ gratitude!
The backgrounds of the brothers’ three helpers remain to be clarified. But it appears that when they suspected – or knew – that the brothers were the Boston Marathon bombers, instead of calling the police, they tried to get rid of evidence – namely, fireworks from which the gunpowder had been removed, and a laptop. These three appear to be accessories after the fact to multiple murders. Like the Tsarnaevs, they showed no gratitude to the nation that had taken them in, given them the opportunity to get a college education – and to drive a BMW.
Whether Tamerlan’s wife Katherine Russell took part in making the bombs, or in the cover-up, remains unclear. The female DNA on one bomb does not match hers. She was born in America, converted to Islam to marry Tamerlan, and began wearing a hijab. If she is a co-conspirator, her ingratitude will rank with “Taliban” John Walker Lindh and “Al Qaeda” Adam Gadahn. If not, she is an unfortunate dupe whose naiveté should be a warning to all of us. Naiveté is charming in a child; it is inappropriate and potentially dangerous in an adult.
Part of the problem is that an infantile narcissism is common – almost normal – in much of the world today. Narcissists feel little gratitude, because they have an enormous sense of entitlement.
Why be grateful to family, if you are entitled to love and support? Why be grateful to friends, if you are entitled to friendship? Why be grateful to capitalism, if you are entitled to abundance? Why be grateful to science, if you are entitled to medicines and computers? Why be grateful to police officers, firefighters, and the armed services, if you are entitled to safety?
Why be grateful to America, if you are entitled to freedom? Why be grateful to God, if you are entitled to life and health? Rather than feeling grateful for all these gifts, many people feel angry and resentful when any one of them is lacking – or even if none of them is lacking, as is the case for the Tsarnaevs. If you believe yourself entitled to “more,” you will always be dissatisfied and angry, because no matter how much you have, there is always “more.”
Angry ingrates make unhappy spouses, selfish parents, whining children, grouchy neighbors, complaining workers, demanding bosses, poor citizens – and in some cases, dangerous criminals. They also make lousy interpreters of world events – everything is seen only in relation to them. Ingratitude is a serious problem, because it leads to so many other problems.
Gratitude is pleasant to hear for the recipient, but it is therapeutic for the sender. It helps us to get rid of anger and resentment. No matter how unfortunate we may be in other respects, if we live in America we have much to be grateful for. But if we are ingrates who don’t appreciate what we have, we won’t deserve to keep it. And with all the enemies of freedom in the world, we won’t keep it for long.
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