Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al Qaeda, and other similarly militant organizations and individuals will never stop “terrorizing” until the far more wealthy, powerful, and better-armed leaders of nation-states stop sending their military and espionage forces to invade, occupy, assassinate, murder, war against, oppress, exploit, direct, victimize, and otherwise “terrorize” them. Terrorists are those who have given up on dialogue, diplomacy, and compromise, and have instead resorted to war and other kinds of violence to achieve their political goals. People who courageously stand beside their homes, defending them from invading outsiders who would threaten their way of life, are not terrorists.
We are too quick to believe what we read and hear about so-called madmen and lunatics. Powerful demagogues and fear-mongers in every land misquote, marginalize, and demonize—and make a lot of war-profits—by convincing people to hate and fear various international leaders, whether they be George Bush, Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld, Nasrallah, Moqtada al-Sadr, or Ahmadinejad.
On this small, fragile planet, our only hope for safety and peace is for each of us to independently investigate such charges for ourselves, and to then elect and support only those visionary local, national, and world leaders whose lives, words, and actions, like Gandhi’s and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, have been consistently peaceful, and whose international reputations reflect their devotion to compassion, empathy, acceptance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Only such leaders can unify all the world’s peoples, lifting them away from war and other forms of violence by fundamentally changing hearts and minds.
In this heavily-armed world, only one enemy presses for world domination, ceaselessly striving to throw every nation into never-ending inhumane war. That enemy is neither terrorist nor fanatic nor extremist, neither Muslim nor Jew nor Christian, neither Fascism nor Nazism nor Communism nor globalization.
The common enemy of mankind, the one ever urging us all toward overreaction and war and torture and every other kind of terror, is fear in all its forms: fear of change, fear of failure, fear of disgrace, fear of the unknown and unfamiliar and different, fear of want, loss, and death, fear of despair, fear of the past and future, fear of abandonment, of guilt and blame, of losing control, of being helpless and hurt, fear of being wrong….
And what is fear’s remedy? Love, in all its forms: caring, ideas, faith, hope, trust, dialogue, cooperation, generosity, cultural exchange, understanding, knowledge, kindness, negotiation, compromise, diplomacy, peace….
Instead of “allies” and “enemies,” we could choose to see all people everywhere, our own selves included, as alternately falling from one moment to another into either one of two interchangeable camps–people currently offering (us) help, and people currently needing (our) help.
No one can completely avoid suffering some injustice in this post-9/11 world; however, we need not add to its sum.
Patriotism and nationalism will not work so long as people continue to see “others” of different nations, beliefs and cultures as less valuable, less important, and somehow separate from “us.” Nationalism will fail if it stands in opposition to the highest universal human value–support and respect for the quality of human life everywhere–because the only rule which works in human relations, both personal and global, is the Golden Rule: Treat all others as we would want all others to treat us.
Until, one-by-one, we each courageously stand up in perfect love to cast out fear, until we proudly support the unselfish values which unite us all—the democratic ideals proclaiming the equality of all men and the inalienable right of all people everywhere to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—we will all continue to be vulnerable to a relentless battery of twenty-first century storms.
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