Since the failed terrorist attempt on Christmas, we’ve been bombarded with discussions about our national security. Personally, I’ve always been fascinated by how our government, and the media, approach the topic. I’ve often felt as though their intention is to scare us into helplessness and a willingness to blindly follow our leadership into the abyss of warring and defensiveness. With the exception of Barack Obama, I have yet to hear an elected official attempt to change this conversation from one that is fear-driven to one that is solution-oriented. As the world gets smaller and the opposition more threatening, it’s time for our government—and for each one of us—to examine other approaches to creating peace. Kudos to our president for taking the lead in this progressive way of thinking, for seeing that a perspective of wholeness and humanity is what is called for in the creation of security for our citizens.
Some recent discussions have focused on whether to name the perpetrators of these acts terrorists or criminals. There are those who believe they deserve the same constitutional rights as anyone who has committed a crime against our government. And there are those who believe they are beneath the rule of law. I believe that wholeness, compassion, and partnership are needed as we consider this issue. Gone are the days of vilifying our enemies. We must first consider taking them into our hearts with prayer and compassion. This is our opportunity to become curious about the world that breeds such evil choices and to discover how we can have an impact on a new way of being for all. Rather than simply engaging in a war on terror, what if we engage in community building and partnership? By aligning our wealth with the cultural values of those living in loosely governed parts of the world, perhaps we can empower the residents to create lives of value and purpose. Perhaps we can help to defuse the rage and redirect that energy toward creating rather than destroying. To eliminate terrorism, our intention must be to heal its systemic causes. This is not a quick fix but a humane and loving way to approach creating a world that breeds peace rather than fear.
As empowered citizens, it’s our job to let our elected officials know we want create peace and that we seek to build alliances that will eventually isolate those who terrorize. It is our responsibility to insist that our defense budget include a significant contribution toward life-affirming resources such as schools, medicine, and agricultural investment. Let’s begin listening more intently to the leaders and residents of these foreign cultures and discover how our advances in medicine, education, and technology can uplift and inspire them. It is my belief that when people (particularly women) have the wherewithal to provide for their families, they organically share their resources, transforming the discontent of poverty and powerlessness into the optimism that springs from thriving communities.
We can sit back in fear and worry or we can own the truth, that our national security
belongs to us as US citizens. We are not children who need our parents to protect us from the scary monsters lurking beneath our beds. Yes, there are people hell-bent on bringing violence to our shores and the shores of many other nations. We cannot ignore that fact, but we can begin to change it with compassion and a holistic approach that identifies and addresses the causes that underlie terrorism. Launching bombs is a not a solution, it is a part of the problem.
I’m not a big proponent of the American “rugged individualist” idea, but if I were, I’d have to ask: how rugged is a person who shrinks before and demonizes a sad, small, tragically misguided group of people? We can do so much better. We can answer the call of faith, hope, and action, a call to to humanely secure our nation and other nations around our world.