Sunday, April 21, 2013

Good Morning Jacob...

Letter to my Son
Sunday, 21 April

Man with Tie

Good Morning Jacob…

The odyssey from Monday’s Marathon bombing to Friday’s boat capture of a teenage suspect charts a path of expectations about the killers that reveals my own good guy versus bad guy view of terrorism.  My own profile of a perpetrator of evil did not include someone described by those who knew him as a sociable, likable, regular kid.  My mind pictured a dedicated fanatic warped by hatred and anger and not someone that just last September 11th had celebrated becoming a naturalized American citizen.  Nineteen year old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev appeared to be a young man successfully assimilated into American society and not the cold-hearted murderer depicted on video released by the FBI Thursday.  His older brother, Tamerlan, a self-described ‘very religious’ 26 year old more accurately fit my conception of the lone wolf seething with the need for vengeance.  Yet the news reports have so far implicated these two brothers as a team responsible for random killings of innocents and the assassination of a young police officer at MIT.  It seems human nature has too many unexpected crannies to routinely fit into predictable rules of behavior.

Can you imagine a software game that would enable us to live a life foreign to our own personal experience?  I vaguely know the term schizophrenic.  The dictionary definition paints a picture of someone suffering schizophrenia as sometimes behaving in a bizarre fashion because of their delusional experience with the world.  Imagine yourself having to make daily decisions while being unable to trust your own senses.  I can visualize a game where you, the participant, would have to make choices while uncertain as to the reality of your experience.  How long can you survive before you are locked up or you fall from the roof of a tall building?  A more intense version of disorientation would involve criminal insanity.  These ideas may not be commercially successful.  Most people limit their concept of gaming as a form of entertainment.  I think it is more like reading, which can be time spent for its entertaining value or as a means of elucidation, enlightenment.  I think gaming has greater learning potential than does traditional reading and note-taking.  Maybe I would be safer to say gaming supplements reading.  Books provide an abstract structure to a topic while gaming has the capacity to enable understanding through one’s own personal experience.  I am now able to safely walk a mile in the shoes of a troubled or dangerous individual.  I come to appreciate and anticipate that person’s thought processes.  I come to intuitively understand another’s motivations. 

The topic of gaming mental illness does not imply I suspect the Tsarnaev brothers of any mental or deeply emotional affliction.  Their terrorist acts last Monday would be less troubling if we could ascertain their nature to be well outside the potential of the human norm.  How chilling it is to think these criminal acts were perpetrated by perfectly normal human beings.  As it turns out this may well be the case.  Had the circumstances of their lives been altered they may have been celebrated pillars of the community, role models for our young ones.  Instead, carefully weighed personal decisions have led to them to their own destruction and to destroy the lives and happiness of the many they have had no opportunity to know.  How does this come about?  It is important that we should know.


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