This Seriously F*cked Up Week In Boston

Living in a major city means keeping your head on a swivel. I live in Boston, less than a mile from the Marathon bombing, and my dad lives literally feet from the bizarre shootout and bombing that has torn through Cambridge and Watertown as I type this. Although I typically feel safe in my city, pay constant attention to my surroundings, and do not scare easily, I’m starting to feel a little nervous.

I’m a Bostonian, so I naturally have a level of anger higher than your average American — it’s genetic — but now I think it’s warranted. Terrorist attacks happen every day in other parts of the world, so I’d be a fool if I never expected them here. But to follow them up with a fatal shooting and massive residential shootout on the very same day that our piece of sh*t Congress fails to enact the most basic, rational gun control legislation that almost 90% of Americans support, straight-up pisses me off.

The day of the bombing, I was sitting at home when I got a text from a friend about what happened. I hate to say it, but I wasn’t surprised. Reading incessantly about terrorism, foreign policy, etc. means that you become desensitized to the idea of things like this happening, but that doesn’t make them any less horrific for the people who were there and whose lives were changed forever. In fact, just thinking about them makes me lose my composure.

Sitting here watching the Watertown shootout develop live is a bit nerve-wracking as well, since my dad lives on the next street over from the violence. I sometimes shop at the Armenian market that is now part of a crime scene, and my grandmother’s funeral service took place directly across the street. Watertown is a quiet, densely residential area. The most exciting thing that happened there before tonight is weekly bingo at the St. James Armenian Church.

I don’t know about fellow Bostonians, but I’ve never felt as though I was in danger while living here. Everyone has a friend who was in a bar fight in Southie; stabbings and robberies in Dorchester and Roxbury are unfortunately the norm; and it’s rare that a high-profile murder takes place. For all of this to happen in less than a week is absolutely surreal.

I feel a bit ridiculous writing this given what New Yorkers went through on 9/11, what Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis, and a slew of other citizens in war-torn states deal with on a literal daily basis, and what the marathon victims right here in Boston are suffering with who were actually there when it happened.

Regardless, I do think that it serves as a reminder that America has not been a comfortably insulated country for quite a while, and it’s time that we all rapidly catch up to that fact. No longer can we casually ignore what happens abroad, here at home, or what our lackluster lawmakers are planning in Washington that can ultimately come back to bite us all in the ass.

Maybe if more of us took an interest in what our country does overseas, we’d have been more vocal about stopping the ridiculous war in Iraq that has led to the proliferation of Islamic extremists and sympathizers. And maybe if we paid more attention to the fact that it is way too easy for dangerous people to get a hold of guns, the NRA wouldn’t have been able to destroy the democratic process by crowding out the majority of the country’s voices for a small special interest group.

Maintaining a healthy democracy means maintaining an informed citizenry. For too long many of us have blocked out the very issues we have a duty to follow out of fear, lack of understanding, or straight up disinterest.

That simply doesn’t cut it anymore.

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Joseph Sarkisian

Joseph graduated with a Master of Science in international relations from the University of Massachusetts Boston and was an intern at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, DC. He completed his BA at Arizona State University in political science as well as studied Arabic language, terrorism/counterterrorism, and religion. Joseph also lived in Egypt where he studied Arabic at the American University in Cairo in 2007. Joseph was the Secretary of the Executive Committee for the University of Massachusetts Graduate Student Government, a teaching assistant in his department, and teaches a class on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. His main areas of interest are the Af/Pak region, Iran, Syria, and other current foreign policy issues.

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