Terrorism and the Response to Terrorism

-by Thomas Fonseca

So what about terrorism? People get pretty distracted by money and status and all of that crap that doesn’t really matter, and then something like this happens and everyone looks at each other and says, “How did we get so distracted?” That is the only good that has come out of this. And Americans seem closer since we all have a common enemy now. Of course, there is a lot of sorrow and emotional shock for those who lost somebody. Along with an infinite number of “what-if’s.” “What if I had stopped my husband or wife from going to work that day?” “What if I had told my son or daughter that I loved them before I left?” All of that is going to be non-constructive in the end but it is very hard to avoid if you’re involved that closely.

I never felt American until I went to Europe – it was the first time that I felt like an American. And after having studied American History I learned that America is a different kind of country for other reasons. We are the first culture on earth that has embraced and even encouraged religious and political freedom and diversity. It often came at a heavy price but was always worth the cost. I believe “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is worth fighting for. If that doesn’t sound like a big deal to you – it might be because you were raised an American – it’s a big deal for people who have never known it. Anyone who wants to take that away from Americans should meet with strong resistance in my opinion.

At one level I feel sorrow, and empathy, for the Islamic Extremists who felt they should take their own lives to teach us a lesson. And take as many Americans down with them as they could. They could only have been acting out of great pain and great stupidity to do such a monstrous thing. I cannot understand how any individual – let alone an organized group of intelligent people – could believe that this is what God would want them to do. It causes me grief and pain and some despair to think that there are still people who live at this low level. That is a tragedy in and of itself.

So how do we react to this senseless atrocity? President Reagan did not react decisively in the eighties when they killed 250 marines, and America in general has a history of not living up to its threats to terrorism – remember the Iran-Contra affair? The perfect response would be to cause the terrorists to feel the pain and grief that so many people felt as a result of their actions. But I don’t believe that this is a realistic goal. These people are very determined and hard to reach.

A rabid dog must be put down before it hurts other innocent creatures and I think that terrorists fit the category of “rabid dog.” It is my opinion that they should be stopped from destroying the life and liberty of innocent people up to and including the point where they themselves are destroyed. The reason I feel this response is appropriate is by asking myself “Could I kill any terrorist that I saw threatening the life an innocent person? Would I personally shoot Bin Laden despite the potential karmic repercussions?” For me the answer is, yes I could. I don’t hate them, I don’t want to act out any anger or hatred at all. I simply feel that this is the correct response. Our president and his advisors are faced with this decision right now and even though I don’t associate myself with the Republican party, I cannot disagree with the response currently under way in Afghanistan. The threat must be disabled to prevent them from harming others. It should be done in full awareness and as lovingly as possible.

With Honesty - Thomas