Vive la liberté!
July 15, 2016
The illogic and violence that characterizes the terrorist mindset can cause otherwise fair minded people to think and act in kind. Remember terrorist ideology operates on the assumption that outrageous violence will break the will and heart of the societies and peoples it seeks to destroy. They believe the frustration caused by their terrorist mayhem will finally cause a given society to accept the terrorist rule.
Oddly enough, political and governmental leaders who cave in to the “us” verses “them” rhetoric psychologically achieve for the terrorists what they seek to accomplish. One political leader in the United States suggested that we are at war with those who seek to destroy Western civilization. The issue is not quite so simple. ISIL, in particular, would destroy Islam and all civilization as we know it. To identify Islam with ISIL fosters the terrorist agenda to reduce the World to the “good” verses “bad” mentality claiming divine sanction for violent behavior. Nothing would please ISIL more than for “Western” people to see Muslims and Islam as public enemy number one. In fact, Muslims and the authentic practice of Islam are the World’s allies in combatting the scourge of ISIL and terrorism.
What has now emerged on the World stage is what many have long feared – individually motivated acts of violence and terror. As ISIL continues to experience setbacks on the battlefields and curtailment of its sources of revenue, individuals infected with its ideology will continue to spring up in ways that defy our imagination or control. The antidote may seem too weak for those driven by the need to retaliate for the outrageous violence inflicted on so many.
First, populations of people based on religion, race, culture and heritage should never be isolated from the “mainline” population. Human rights belong to all peoples and not simply those who enjoy majority status.
Two, religion must not be reduced to the private sphere. For many people, the practice of religion is the source and motive for socialization and care of neighbor. We must not isolate that which is the source of our ability to understand and empathize.
Third, military response to acts of terrorism must be based on justice not retaliation. We must respond by coming to the defense of all those victimized by ISIL, the overwhelming number of which are Muslims.
Fourth, the peoples of the World must stand in solidarity with those victimized by the madness of terrorism. We must exemplify to those who would be inspired by ISIL and the like what it means to be authentically religious and socially responsible.
Finally, as has been said frequently in these pages, we must not allow the inhumanity of the few to destroy the quest for the human and the humane on the part of the many. We must not destroy ourselves by surrendering to a short-sighted revenge by which we reject or compromise our values and our better nature.
Once again, with great sadness and broken hearts, we stand in solidarity with the people of Nice and France, as we grieve the senseless violence that injured and murdered so many. We now honor those lost and injured lives by standing up for what is right and just. Indeed, long live liberty!
Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P.
With the Board of Directors
The Interfaith Peace Project