Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Attack on Paris

While all the details are still not in, it seems clear that the recent bloodshed in Paris was the work of individuals either directly affiliated with or supportive of the terrorist group known as ISIS.  Yes, terrorist group, as I don't have a problem labeling them as such.  To me, using fear and actively killing civilians to make a point, political or otherwise, classifies a group as terroristic.  However, I agree with those who avoid using the label radical Muslims, not necessarily because it is untrue as many of the young men involved in these type of murderous attacks have been radicalized by some claiming to teach Islam, but because there are too many people who take the next step in believing that all Muslims are haters of the West and that the entire religion is itself a call to war against our way of life. 

This type of thinking is apparent in the many books written by various icons of the conservative world, and even present in the rhetoric of some of the GOP presidential candidates on the perceived absurdity (in their small minds) of electing a Muslim to office or allowing any Syrian refugees to immigrate to our shores, both of which have been broadcast incessantly on Fox News.

This being said, I will repeat the necessary message that all Americans should remember, in that terrorism inspired by religion can be traced to all creeds, and that terrorism itself is a matter of perspective.  I am sure the colonists of the War for Independence were labeled as such by the establishment of England, just as those who drop bombs on villages in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan may be labeled similarly by those living in those villages.  However, I will also say that there appears a difference between my ability to say the above, ideas that some of my fellow Americans may vigorously disagree with, and the lack of admonitions emanating from the vast majority in the Muslim community.  Perhaps it is a testament to the degree of freedom that we still enjoy in these great United States, perhaps an indication that the Muslim majority who would prefer to condemn this atrocious behavior lack the will or fear the repercussions of such statements, or perhaps, like the majority of moderate Republicans who know that men like Trump and Carson would make horrible presidents, those who stay silent do so because they somehow believe they can use this group to attain a goal or make a point that they believe essential, similar to those in the GOP who have used the tea party movement to increase their majorities in Congress and various state houses.

In some ways, allowing an ideology to prosper, even if by silence or lack of calling it what it is, makes everyone a party to its horrors.  For that reason, I call on those who represent Islam as a religion of peace to stand up to those abusing your faith.  American intervention in the Middle East through our addiction to oil, and our misplaced belief that our way of life is the only way, has certainly been a factor that has led to groups such as ISIS.  But standing idly by while that kind of violence is justified as a response to our indiscretions will not solve the problems of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, nor convince the West that the people of that region can solve its own problems and improve the livelihoods of the vas majority of people who live there. 

Which brings us to our response to these horrific acts.  Of course, it is easy to seek revenge for such instances of violence.  Perhaps even human nature.  But will revenge killing lead to peace or more revenge killing?  Is it our desire to bring peace to the world, or just to kill those who are responsible for the attacks in Paris, and who threaten more attacks?

I know it is easy to say we need to seek a path of forgiveness and love when I am sitting safe and sound in my upstairs bedroom while listening to Supertramp, Crime of the Century on my computer.   Would I think the same if my daughter had been studying abroad in France and been killed while eating dinner at a caf√©?  Would I think the same if the attack had occurred in my hometown, or the nearest large city, Philadelphia?  I would like to think so, but. unless faced with the situation, we never know our reaction to insane acts.  But, if not, then are we to blame those who live in places where their lives seem hopeless, where those in authority teach them that only through violence can they gain hope, and where their enemies bomb and kill their family and friends because they are called terrorists by the leaders of the West?

There is certainly a simple reaction to the killing of innocent people.  More killing.  Of course, we cache our killing in the belief that we are killing only the guilty, conveniently ignorant to the fact that there is no way to guarantee only the guilty will die when drones drop their bombs.  Collateral damage it is called in the war rooms where such decisions are made.  A dead wife or child is what is it called on the ground.

Those who plant the seeds of terror in the minds of the young men who join groups like ISIS are the real enemies of humanity.  It is those men who we need to root our and expose to the light, for once their true motives are revealed, power and money usually, all their grand ideas of God and justice wither and die.  But let's also keep a sharp eye out for those among us with similar goals.  Those who use prejudice and hate to further their careers, pad their bank accounts, gain favor with the uneducated or easily swayed. 

At the end of the day, the end of our lives, we will come face to face with the truth about whether we encouraged violence or understanding, joined the mob seeking revenge or said nothing while the mob did its dirty deeds.

Perhaps I am wrong, in that we do need a surgeon leading the way.  A surgeon able to save the body of man through the precise targeting of those who promote violence as a way to resolve our differences, regardless of creed or nationality, as opposed to the crude brutality of killing anyone with a different race, religion or perspective.  A surgeon who reinforces words of love and God with actions of a similar nature.


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