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Matthew J. Webster – Writer

Posts Tagged ‘Massachusetts

Letter From Boston

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12:02 4/19/13

The subject of the manhunt in #Boston now is 19 or 20 years old. He attended high school at Cambridge Rindge and Latin, considered one of the best public high schools in the US. He is a “digital native,” a millennial habituated to analyzing information (e.g. computer games) and foreseeing predictable events (like a media blitz) far faster than educated adults of older generations. This moment on the lam, with his desperately fearful younger face plastered over all our monitors as we fail to sleep from paranoia, cling to each other inside our apartments, shake our heads toward each in utter, broken-hearted bafflement as we pass on the sidewalk in light of a greeting  — this moment of adrenaline and fear of death was the kid’s whole motivation for doing this.

Now we know how it feels to be wrong, too, the way he felt all through puberty; a proud Muslim immigrant to the US in a time of intense American patriotism: strange, perpetually labeled a foreigner because he carried an accent and a name no one knew how to pronounce, from an unfashionable, poor country, called a loser by his uncle back “home” because he was slower than his older brother. We feel afraid of making an absent-minded mistake like he felt every morning before school, except that we fear being bodily maimed as a result, or to go to work because we might be killed, and he feared another failed math test, or another failure to communicate with a girl.

I’m afraid, but not that much. I’m prepared to visit the bodega for some low-sodium soy sauce, despite police warnings. The bodega’s not afraid of me, they know me. I’m part of the family there, and at the barber shop next door. I live in a heavily Caribbean neighborhood. The first time you walk into a local Caribbean store, if you speak to the employees politely, tell them you live nearby and, kind of, lean around like you’re in your own living room for a little while, from then on every time you return to the store the employees, customers, and their friends will all treat you as if you are a guest in their own private living room. I was, literally, welcomed to the family the first time Eduardo cut my hair next door.

I’m even prepared to learn the Spanish word for “soy sauce,” although learning Spanish has been slower than I’d hoped when moving here. I did dream in Spanish for the first time two nights ago, so the hood must be having some effect on me. The bodega is armed in case things turn ugly. There’s a precinct house three blocks away.

I don’t live the vast majority of my life in fear and I never will. I can put up with a few more hours.

Sincerely, with absolute respect to all who have been killed or injured, and their loved ones — right now, with helicopters outside my window, I’d rather die or have a leg blown off than eat boiled dumplings without soy sauce in this City I love.

That goes for cities I love around the world, too: Berlin, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Seoul, Jerusalem, and Marrakech. All my towns have seen days of paranoia and bloodshed like we fear in Boston now. All societies create minorities of  losers and outcasts. The proportion of the minority, and how they are treated, is the measure of social civility.

That’s why I’m afraid, but not too much, of getting a limb blown off or killed when I go downstairs for soy sauce in 20 minutes. Not too afraid because this is a tolerant community. There will always be losers like Dzhokhar  Tsarnaev, in every American high school. A fraction of them will have psychotic breaks like him, but no one will notice because they never talked to anyone. There are six million people in Massachusetts. The percentages got to us and we’re having a very bad day. There is nothing particular about Boston’s character that produced Dzhokhar. Tamerlan

I fear his bombs, as primitive as they are, and but I’m not afraid of Dzhokhar.Tamerlan. I’ve read Bruce Lee’s book on self-defense. He’s a frightened, little loner. I have my City, and the whole world is with me.

Written by webster71

April 19, 2013 at 12:08

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