Adrienne BoettingerTuesday,7 May 2013

The Snap:

I’ve previously written about things that scare the bejeezus out of me, like cicadas, sharks, elevators, and geese. One fear I hadn’t really written about before is terrorism. I don’t mean fear of suicide bombers, hijacked planes or other attacks. I fear most what terrorism turns us into; aside from the physical damage, terrorism spawns significant changes in how we talk to and about each other, and what we value. The real terror for me is the fear of allowing terrorism to compromise who we are.

The Download:

President Bush 43’s war on terror scared the crap out of my friend Tara. Not because she was a terrorist but because the way he pronounced the word “terror” sounded like her name, as if he had declared war on her. When we first talked of the war on terror, I didn’t think much beyond the general scariness of people a world away wanting to destroy us. That and how if Tara were a rapper she should be named Li’l Terror.

Now, it’s the aftereffects of terrorism that scare me, like how quickly we are willing to deny people their rights, to demonize them and anyone like them, to change the very core of who we are and what we stand for. Boston is the most recent example: the calls for the suspect to be tried as an enemy combatant despite his citizenship, the unwillingness to bury the deceased suspect despite the Geneva Convention. Then of course there are the ideas of holding people indefinitely without trial, torture, and targeting specific people because of their religion or ethnicity.

Some argue that terrorists don’t deserve the rights in the Geneva Convention, U.S. Constitution, or other documents. I think that denying them these rights allows terrorism to erode our very humanity. Punishing their families for the terrorists’ actions, using their loved ones against them: these are not the actions of a just or merciful people.

A little over a week ago, a man stabbed 3 people during mass in a Catholic church in New Mexico. He assaulted his fellow parishioners because of his grudge against Masons and his belief that the church’s choir leader was a Mason. The part of that story that stays with me is the pastor’s assertion that his parishioners have already forgiven the assailant and pray for him and his family. They forgave this man who terrorized them, not because they are soft on crime or crazy-beatnik-liberals. They forgave him because it takes his power away. Through their mercy, they protect their humanity, strengthen their community, and begin to heal.

Not for a second do I think it’s easy for those who are attacked or who lose loved ones to forgive the people that commit these terrorist acts. I think it must be the hardest thing they ever do. But I firmly believe that forgiveness is an act of bravery that helps perpetrators and victims alike. If that makes me a crazy-beatnik-liberal, let it be.

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Hat Tips:

Washington PostPoliticoThe Atlantic WireMy Fox BostonGuardianConcord MonitorHuffington PostForbes, Image Credit: Flickr

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