Losers

     Haven’t we heard enough about the Tsarnaev brothers?
     Does anyone really wonder why they did it?
     Does anyone care what their loopy mom thinks?
     They did it because they’re losers.
     They did it because the older brother felt – for personal, familial or societal reasons, or for all of them – that he was a nothing. And he was correct. But since it takes a bit of honesty and insight to do something constructive about it, it was easier to hate – to hate anyone available.
     He did it because he was self-centered and spoiled, and since he felt, but could not admit, that the most precious thing in the universe – himself – was a nothing. So he blamed someone else for it, because the way he figured, they were nothing too.
     And he persuaded his adoring younger brother to go along with him.
     None of this is new, or even interesting. Karen Horney explained it more than 60 years ago in her book “Neurosis and Human Growth.”
     I don’t object to the crime reporting. Three more people were arrested this week and charged with trying to help those losers. Good for the cops. Good for the FBI. Good for the Boston Globe, which helped.
     But please, this has nothing to do with “radicalization via the Internet.” It is only tangentially related, if at all, to geopolitics. It’s about two losers who killed people. That’s all it is.
     Enough already with the thumb-sucking. Give it a rest. The newspapers now are being almost as self-centered as the loser brothers were.
     This whole sad story reminds me of something the great University of Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman said long ago.
     Bowerman, who died at 88 in 1999, is responsible more than anyone else for the fact that millions of people in the United States run for exercise today, and that millions of people have run and are training to run marathons.
     Bowerman trained 31 Olympic athletes, including Steve Prefontaine. Many of his runners, he said, came to Eugene and told him, “I want to work on my weaknesses.”
     To which Bowerman replied, “Why?”
     You don’t win by working on your weaknesses, Bowerman said: You win with your strengths.
     Democracy has built-in weaknesses. A government that grants its people a Bill of Rights has even more weaknesses. The Bill of Rights is supposed to weaken the government.
     When acts of violence occur, even acts of mass violence, it is counterproductive, to say the least, for the government to try to attack the Bill of Rights.
     But President George W. Bush established this as national policy, and President Obama has followed along, like an adoring younger brother.
     There will always be losers among us.
     There will always be vile religious extremists who tell us it is virtuous to kill people.
     They will do this because they are severely screwed up, on a personal level. Or because doing so brings them money, sex and power.
     And their true believers will do what they say, because they are clueless too.
     As I said, none of this is new.
     But there is no reason for the government of the United States to kick the struts out from under our Constitution to “protect” us from losers. The government, and all of us, should spend more time working on our strengths.
     This is from Bill Bowerman’s eulogy at Steve Prefontaine’s funeral: “Pre, you see, was troubled by knowing that a mediocre effort could win a race, and a magnificent effort can lose one. Winning a race wouldn’t necessarily demand that he give it everything he had from start to finish. … Pre was stubborn. He insisted on holding himself to a higher standard than victory. A race is a work of art. That’s what he said. That’s what he believed. … Of course, he wanted to win. … But how he won mattered to him more. Pre … finally got it through my head that the real purpose of running isn’t to win a race. It’s to test the limits of the human heart.”
     Losers give up. Vile losers kill people. Let’s not be a nation of losers.

%d bloggers like this: