Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ding Dong the terrorist is Dead!

Authors Note: Writing this was very important to me. I pray, I did it justice.

(On September 11th, 2001)I was in my bedroom half asleep.

Classes had been cancelled that day, because the new president of our university was being inaugurated. We were all supposed to be heading over the inauguration. But the whole “supposed to” vs.” have to” thing meant I was still in bed. My roommate on the other hand, the political science major, was excited about the inauguration and was wide awake watching the news. I can still hear the scream she let out as she watched the second plane hit the twin towers on live TV! It was surreal. Unreal. It couldn’t be real. Was it a joke? A prank? Less than a half hour passed before we realized that this was no joke. It had really happened. The US had been attacked on its own soil for the first time in decades. The news reporters were frantic. People emerged from the rubble all covered in grey debris, they look like zombies. Bloodshot eyes, muddy tears on their faces, fear and hopelessness in their pupils and an air of all out panic about them. It must have felt like the end of the world to them (I thought). In the moments and days that followed the news was flooded with coverage of the event. It was then that we learned that a word called “terrorism” was responsible for the horrendous event. Terrorism had killed all those innocent people, it had orphaned all those children, and it was choking our firefighters and service men. For the first time in his entire presidency, I agreed with Mr. bush*…Terrorism was the problem. It needed to be eliminated. ASAP squared.
Over the next few days there so many images of people covered in soot and ash. But even as the body count of the missing and dead increased and our national fear rose, the most disturbing image I can remember was the pictures and videos of Iraqi’s celebrating in the streets once they were told about what happened here. They were smiling, raising their flags…as if they had one something great. It was heinous. And those images convinced me that these distant strangers burning our flag were monsters. Who in their right mind would celebrate and dance on the eve of our darkest hour. Monsters..that’swho. Terrorist monsters. I wanted to hate them and the media made sure that I did.
Our president told us that terrorism lived in Iraq and Afghanistan- that it wore a hijab and it hated freedom. He told us that it was our job to not rid only our country, but the entire world of this universal menace. It was an honor and a privilege for us to exterminate these monsters. Soon after we found out that there were certain practices that seemed to lend themselves to terrorism (because all the terrorists were exactly the same). Some of the things that all the terrorists had in common were brown skin, the practice of Islam and socialism. So while we were searching out and destroying terrorism, we should also bring the “good news” of Jesus Christ, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington to these countries. Surely, no god fearing, capitalist, democrat could commit an act of terrorism. Red white and blue Flag in hand, we all agreed to Mr. bush’s plan. We agreed to the Patriot Act that stripped away the privacies of Americans. We agreed to send hundreds of thousands of our servicemen and women to their untimely death all in hopes of eliminating terrorism and advancing freedom.
The only problem with our strategy is that we made a lot of assumptions in our attempt to stamp out terrorism. We assumed that it was only located in one place. We assumed that it would be easy to find. We assumed that the more men and women we sent to attack it, it would cower and retreat. We assumed that the people we were going to free ACTUALLY wanted to be free. We assumed that American lives were more valuable that anyone else's. But we were wrong. It has taken over ten years and hundreds of thousands of people are dead. And this is where it gets interesting. WHO is actually dead?  On September 11th, we lost 3, 497 people; 450 of which were firefighters, rescue workers and volunteers. These 450 can be likened to the American soldiers that went to Iraq, in that they knowingly faced death to save someone else. Although the word heroes seems far too small a word to properly communicate all they have given us, the English language limits me here and it will have to suffice. My point is 3,047, DID NOT knowingly put themselves in harm’s way. All they did was go to work, or get on a plane. Completely innocent. Really sit with that for a minute. T H R E E T H O U S A N D people. Went to work and never came back and because of this a nation went to war for 10 years! Now let’s look at the picture in Iraq. It is estimated that over 100,000 Iraqi’s are dead with as much as 1/3 being civilians. That is upwards of 33,000 innocent people dead. Mothers, fathers, children….just like our loved ones. Dead.
**Now, if they killed 3,500 of us and we retaliated by a 10 year war and killing 33,000 of them…I wonder what the next step is for them???**

Now don’t get me wrong. I get why we killed him. I get why we thought we had to kill him. My conscious won’t allow me to say that I’m happy he’s dead….any more than I can say that I’m happy any person is dead. But what I will say is that I understand why what happened had to happen. What I don’t understand is what we THINK this all means in the long run. The Iraqi’s killed 3,500 Americans, so we killed 33,000 of them. (And yes, I am repeating these numbers on purpose so we can all feel the sting and experience the magnitude of them) Keep in mind, I have purposely NOT included the service men and women on either side because they fall into the hero category; those who knew that death was a possibility and were willing to make the sacrifice so the rest of us could sit pretty and write blogs about our feelings.  If we to count the soldiers of Iraq, Afghanistan, America and the other countries we would be a little over a quarter of a million people dead. That number is beyond insane. 

And guess what?  Even after we have killed two of the largest violent dictators on  the face of the planet (one of which, we killed 5 years ago); terrorism has yet to be eliminated.  al qaida has not conceded to us. The Iraqi’s have not adopted our God, our democracy or our free trade. They haven’t and my guess is they won’t. Because terrorism does not rest in the hands of one or two people. Terrorism is response to stimuli. It is a tactic- a technique that lives in the minds of those who think they have no other recourse.
As human beings we deal with fear in one of two ways, fight or flight. The fight or flight responses are innate, knee jerk, reflexes. Flight is actually the most natural response, because we are confronted with fear the first thing we want to do is run. But in cases where we CAN’T run, we fight. To some running may seem like a cowardly thing to do, but flight doesn’t always mean running away. Sometimes it can mean outsmarting or out maneuvering. All in all is just about avoiding conflict. Think about it. If you are face to face with a bear-is you first thought to get away from the bear or to kill it? Chances are you just want to get away from the bear. It’s not that you want to save the bear, you don’t really care about the bear…you want to avoid conflict.  A conflict that your intellect and senses are telling you will end in your death. Now say the bear scratches you, but you still get away. What do you do then?  Do you plan to go back into the woods and kill every bear you see until you find the bear that scratched you and kill it? Or do you find a way to put a fence or enclosure around the place where the bears are so they can’t get out and you can’t get in? I don’t know what the answer is. But if I had been scratched by a bear, I would want to ensure that it wouldn’t happen to anyone else. And I would know that killing one bear or hmmm 33,000 bears wouldn’t prevent it from happening again. As long as there are bears there will be a threat of bear attacks. Yet, with the fence, it would be harder for humans to get to bears and bears to get to humans, making the likelihood of bear attacks less. Because let’s be honest, we can’t kill every Iraqi…I mean bear.
I’ll admit, I’m no political strategist and I have no experience with foreign policy but do I contemplate the spiritual ramifications of what we do. I mourn for a generation of children hypnotizing themselves with hyper violent television and video games. Those who have become so desensitized to violence and so angered by their circumstances that they show up to school one day with a shotgun. I mourn for the adults so torn up with grief that seeing someone else die is the only way the can have relief. I mourn for the servicemen and women who fight all day and night. I pray they have the mental and spiritual fortitude to still believe in love or that good people do exist. I have no clue what it must feel like to be in the shoes of any the aforementioned, what I do know, however, is how it feels to loose someONE close to me. SomeONE that I love. If I try to multiply that feeling by all the lives that have been lost in this war it’s unfathomable. I'm  not just talking about the dead either. I am  talking about the children who no longer have parents, the wives who lost thier husbands, mothers who have lost thier sons and daughters. They too will bear the burden of this war for the rest of thier lives. So for me, the death of osama bin laden, doesn’t comfort me much as my government thinks it should. Seeing his photo would give me no peace. I know there will be others. More lost lives, more broken families, new presidents, new dictators and a new terrorism czar. I just wonder if one day we will realize that the value of one life is never more important than another. No more innocent people need to die for this. We have to remember that when attacked, we always have TWO options….not just one.
Violence begets violence. Period.
*names of those I do not respect have been written in lowercase letters purposely*

1 comment:

  1. I think that many Americans reacted with a third option: paralysis. Many were frozen with fear and waited for someone to tell them what they should feel, what to think, and finally what should be done. I wish I could use more positive, poetic words but there's really no need when you see it on the wall [the writing on the wall]. Society needs more free thinkers to use their skill and profession to carve a new way for humanity, and it seems we are in the beginning stages of this intellectual uprising across the planet. Kenya, keep inspiring us all to create the world we want to see. :)

    Stay Connected!