If you have not heard about the terrorist attacks in Paris this past week then you are living somewhere with no internet, no TV, no newspapers, no information of any kind and you are probably not reading my blog. For everybody else, I’m sure you’ve heard all about it. I’m also sure that this brings up memories of past events for you.
We unfortunately live in a world where tragedies occur on a relatively frequent basis. For me, and most Americans, Paris makes me remember 9/11. For anybody living in the Middle East, it would bring up memories of any of hundreds of bombings possibly experienced, including at least two (one in Beirut and one in Baghdad) this week alone. In a world like this then we must all stand together. So yes my profile on Facebook shows that I stand with Paris. But I also stand with Beirut and Baghdad and every single person who has ever lost a loved one in a terrorist attack.
In the wake of the attacks, French President Francois Hollande released a statement that includes “lead[ing] a war which will be pitiless” against ISIS. A war such as this will create many more tragedies but this time the victims are much less likely to be a part of the western world. Which means they won’t get the same kind of media attention that the Paris attacks have gotten. But these people are suffering even more than we are. They know that they are living in close quarters with terrorists. They know that a bomb could land on their house at any moment. They are the victims who have suffered the most.
A war on ISIS alone is not even close to a solution. 14 years ago, the US declared a war on terrorism. We took out Al Qaeda and ISIS rose to take its place. We are trying to fight evil here, and you cannot combat evil by attacking a single group or person. You cannot combat evil if you are attacking anyone at all. We must fight hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and violence. We must educate everyone, make sure everyone has what is necessary for life, and be understanding of those whose faith differs from ours.
The best way to keep a person from becoming a terrorist is to give them the opportunity to express their opinion in a fruitful manner. This requires and education. Education satisfies the natural curiosity of each person and teaches us that different isn’t necessarily wrong. You don’t have to eradicate the opposing opinion by killing everyone of that opinion, you eradicate it by rational argumentation in a safe environment. Otherwise, you are making the rest of the world think that you are in the wrong.
This kind of education is only available to the elite of the world. Countries where success and plenty are almost a given. Citizens of other countries must spend their entire lives working in order to survive, or they die young because they do not have access to drinking water or enough food.
There are so many things that are wrong with our world. So many things to cause anger and hatred. So many things to worry about.
But there are also so many things that are good in our world! I’ve seen so many people who make someone’s day by paying for their coffee. People who are willing to go out of their way to make something about your day just a little better. These are the people who will fix our world.
We have been treating everything bad like it’s a political problem. Terrorism, abortion, the death penalty, poor and starving people are NOT political problems! They are moral problems. Dealing with them politically only exacerbates the issue. I’m not saying that politics needs to ignore these major issues, I’m saying that we can’t expect them to miraculously resolve with the passing of a certain piece of legislation.
We have to solve the problems ourselves. We have to create a better world ourselves. And we can only do this by becoming better people. Maybe my smile or act of kindness will prevent a tragedy. I will never know what awful things I keep from happening. But I do not what awful things I will never do. I can hope that others will learn from my example and choose to create good instead of evil in our world. And we have to spread this goodness to every single person we meet. We will only live in a good world when we help each other become good people.
I have been to Paris. I have seen it’s beauty. I remember 9/11. I have known tragedy. My heart is with every single person suffering from tyranny and terrorism. I will create good in the world.