Whether the Tsarnaev brothers were self-radicalized or influenced by the direct efforts of others, one thing is for certain. The process was a victory for dichotomous thinking. Thoughts like “America is bad” or “America has to be punished” replaced thought like “There is a problem and here is what we should do to address it”. If we want to make it more difficult for this to happen in the future, we need to teach children at as early an age as possible how the brain can be divided into 2 parts. One part is the lower level reptilian (dichotomous) brain and the other is the higher level (goal oriented) thinking brain. There are times when we need the reptilian brain. “Yes that is a tiger and you’d better run.” And there are times when things are not so black and white and we need to really think about what we are trying to achieve and how to achieve it.
Had the Tsarnaev brothers been taught this idea at an early age, their radicalization would have been more of an uphill battle. One or both of them would have been more likely to ask “Will killing a bunch of innocent people do anything to reverse the effects of modernization and globalization on our beloved Islam?” “Will killing a bunch of innocent people do anything to discourage the U.S. from invading other Muslim countries in the future?”