04/21/2013 11:00 EDT | Updated 04/21/2013 11:00 EDT

Wise Words From an Eight-Year-Old: "No More Hurting People. Peace"


Martin Richard was eight years old. He was in the third grade. He was killed on Monday at the Boston Marathon, waiting at the finish line. Recently, his teacher, Lucia Brawley, released a photo of Martin holding up a sign he made in school. It said: "No more hurting people. Peace."

As a mother of three -- one of which is also a third grader -- Martin's senseless death fills me with emotion, expressed more aptly by tears than words.

Not only does Martin look like he could be my kid's classmate, I feel as though I have seen his sign before because it resembles so closely the signs made by my children and their classmates, for the purpose of student-led demonstrations held this past year to demand equal education for First Nations students, which took place on Parliament Hill here in Ottawa.

It is a cause brought to students by my children's teachers and other Canadian teachers -- folks who are sensitive, smart and brave enough to see that the future is in their hands and that the next generation can change the world through activism and compassion.

What we don't expect is to lose any member of that next generation so abruptly and violently the way we all have lost Martin. My heart goes out to his teacher, his classmates, his school, his community, his family and most of all, his parents.

Who would do such a thing?

Violent radicals, extremists, psychos, terrorists? Whatever we call the perpetrators of such acts in the end we all agree that society must be safe. Our children must be safe.

There is a photo of the surviving suspect. He is a young man with a handsome face, doe brown eyes and curly hair. He is 19, but to me, he doesn't look a day over 15. He was a medical student. He had a future. His name is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. His 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan, who was also a suspect, with evidence against him, is now dead, following a police shootout. Dzhokhar is now severely injured. He was found hiding in a boat. It is reported he was not read his rights by police.

Dzhokhar's mother, Zubeidat said in reaction to her son's arrest: "It is really, really a hard thing to hear. And being a mother, what I can say is that I am really sure, I am, like, 100 per cent sure, that this is a set-up."

My sympathy is not lost on Zubeidat Tsarnaev, who, in essence, has lost much more than two children.

At the same time I have not lost faith in the law enforcement system here in North America, upon which we all depend.

Let us hope that it was not a set up.

Let us hope that all the answers are revealed in a fair trial and explain how two young American Muslim men of Chechen descent, with promising futures, lost their way and ended up creating such chaos and death.

Let us hope that what happened in Boston never happens again anywhere, and stops happening in countries far away, where explosions that cause the death of children are such a regular everyday occurrence that our mainstream media has lost interest.

Let us hope that the next generation grows up to change the world with the kind of activism and compassion envisioned by my children's teachers.

And finally let us hope that the wish expressed in Martin's sign reverberates far and wide and for eternity: "No more hurting people. Peace."

Boston Vigils