I think most of us feel we are good people. We go about our lives and we try to do what we feel is the right thing. We feel for those who have been hurt. We feel moral outrage at those who have wronged others. But for the most part we just go along with our lives, doing our daily chores, seeing our friends, shopping, going to work. Very ordinary.
And then sometimes something extra ordinary happens. Occasionally it is good. Sometimes it is bad. All too often it is horrid. It may not affect us directly, but we still feel it. We are caught up. We feel sad. We feel mad. We are shocked and repulsed. Sympathy and compassion come up. Hatred and anger come up.
Acts of terror are designed to do more than just cause fear. They are designed to do more than terrorize. There is intention. Sometimes it is a warning. Sometimes it is revenge. Often the intention is more subtle. Often the psychological reasons are far beyond the simple ones the media often reports.
Here is the kneejerk reaction many have to the latest round of terror. They want to stop all refugees from entering their country even though there is huge amounts of suffering, even though of the hundreds of thousands of refugees running from terror there is only one who is suspected of carrying out terror, though that is in doubt. Others want to send our military into Syria. They want boots on the ground to avenge the deaths (see this article for why this might be a bad idea). And then there are those that blame Muslims in general.
All of these reactions play directly into the hands of the terrorists. This is exactly what they want.
I am not in a place where I can talk about military solutions. I see expert after expert saying it is a bad idea while I see many politicians and media personalities pushing for it. So no, I will not talk of that here. This is not a place to speak of violence. I know something needs to be done, but those decisions will not be made by you or me.
You see, I want to talk about what you and I can do. We are not going to go over to Syria and fight. In fact, we are going to feel all of those emotions but then go back to our daily lives.
But we do know that the world has changed. And we want to help.
I think the best thing we can do as individuals is try to stop the circle of hatred.
Have you noticed that almost all post-9-11 terrorists are home gown? Although we are doing a better job of stopping international terrorists, there are many more home-grown threats. Have you ever wondered why someone would raise up arms against their own country? Why they would kill innocent citizens in their home cities and states?
Have you ever seen an anti-Muslim post on Facebook? I doubt if there have been more than a dozen days since I started using Facebook almost ten years ago that I haven’t seen at least one anti-Muslim post. Yes, I have some Facebook “friends” who are full of hate. Funny thing, though, is that they don’t understand that they are full of hate. They see themselves as good people, just like we do. They think they are full of “Christian love” and put up those posts because from their point of view it is true. They only hear about and see acts of evil.
Why do they only see the evil and never the good? Partially it is because of the media. There are some news channels that have a very, very strong anti-Muslim agenda. I do not know why. But I have turned on these channels only watch person after person rant about how all Muslims are a threat to our way of life, that every one of them wants to destroy America.
Imagine that you are a child in a Muslim family and see all of this hate aimed at you. Imagine if you see a lot of barriers placed in your way. How would you feel?
The fact is, many Muslims do feel marginalized and rejected by Western society. They feel discriminated against.
They feel they are hated.
These are the people the terrorist organizations target with their propaganda. These are the people that can become radicalized and in some instances can then become the home grown terrorists.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. As we go about our daily lives we can reach out our hands to them. When we see rejection we need to show acceptance. When we see hatred aimed at them we can show love. When we hear blanket statements being said, We shouldn’t just shake our heads and walk away. If there is a fire of hatred, please do not add fuel!
The thing is, when you reach out your hand, don’t do it to try to break the chain that can lead to radicalization. You need to do it because these are humans. They are thinking, feeling people. They are our brothers and sisters.
Of course, as we go about our lives we typically don’t see the problems. We don’t notice the disenfranchised and the marginalized. We don’t see them or think about them. Why should we?
We should because they are our fellow travelers on this journey called life. We are all in it together.
I think most of us feel we are good people. We go about our lives every day. We feel for those that see being hurt. But do we see the others, the marginalized, that are hurt indirectly? Perhaps to be really good people we should recognize that there are other victims than those they show on TV. Perhaps to be truly good people we should go beyond refraining from doing bad and try to actively do good. I am not naïve enough to think we can end all atrocities and all violence by just smiling at people we meet in the street and turning the other cheek. No, we can’t. But we’ll certainly get a lot farther than if we do nothing or, worse, actively participate in hurting others. Hate only breeds hate.
So please help end the circle of hatred. Please try to see the beauty in the world and its people. We, the every day people, need to to make a difference. Our little efforts may come to nothing, but let’s do an experiment on the Butterfly Effect and try to send our smiles and friendly hands to the whole world.
Something DOES need to be done about IS. Those responsible DO need to be brought to justice. Let’s just not punish the wrong people!