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Violence Will Never Bring Victory Over Terrorism
This has been a very angry year for many of us - the year since September 11, 2001. In a spirit of anger, hate spreads to become hostility. This hostility must be focused on something or someone. Howard Thurman in his book The Growing Edge, states, "If hostility cannot express itself toward anything else, then it is like a boomerang and turns upon its possessor." A key question that all Americans continue to face is how to respond to the death and destruction brought into our lives by the terrorist attacks. One might expect hate and hostility, but the prevailing response has been compassion and heroic efforts to support those who have suffered a loss.
Immediately after the attacks of 9/11, President Bush identified the key issues, including the anger and grief of the American people. Bush said, "Grief has turned to anger and our anger to resolution." We are resolute in the goal of victory over terrorism and the defeat of those who harbor terrorist. What does that word "resolute" mean? Firmness, Determination, Pursuing a fixed purpose, unwavering. This fixed purpose continues to seek target s around the world.
The glass in the side view mirror of my car cracked last week so I looked in the phone book to find a repair shop. I choose one on Lee Highway. On the right I saw an auto glass repair shop so I pulled in to the parking lot. I had the car with the broken mirror so I asked the lady behind the counter if they could replace the glass. She looked at the car and said they did not stock that piece and could not match the tinting. I pulled out the address and name of the original glass shop that was on down the road and asked her how far it was or if she could recommend any place that would be closer. She stated that Brainerd Glass was closer. I asked which shop she would recommend. She said," Brainerd Glass -- that other shop is run by a man from Saudi Arabia." I responded, "there are good and bad people in Saudi Arabia just as there are good and bad people in Chattanooga."
I hope our targets are more directed than at those who are Arab, or practice Islam, or look like a terrorist and board a plane, or have ideas that seem strange.
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Who are these terrorist? They brought almost insurmountable pain to families whose brave loved ones rushed up flights of stairs to offer aid to those who could not join the thousands streaming down the stairwells escaping the fumes and debris of a burning building. A building that would become the temporary mausoleum to over three hundred firemen, police and rescue workers.
I like President Bush's resolve to abolish this terrorist violence. He has united the people in the resolute fight to win victory over terrorism.
How that victory is won is the question that troubles my mind and heart this morning. How can victory be won over something as deeply rooted as international terrorism? Rooted in hate, ignorance, tradition, and yes-religious piety.
I see the images and listen to the stories of horrible destruction night after night. Night after night before the attack on New York the stories of Palestinian houses and families outside Bethlehem being blown up. Among the rubble are shell casings of American-made bombs.
Two million Afghan refugees on the brink of starvation with no place to go.
The beautiful Olympic Host City Sariavo now bombed to rubble. Children running from building to building trying to avoid sniper fire as they seek water and food.
Iran, Iraq, Belfast, The Temple Mound, Kosovo, Gaza Strip, West Bank, Bus Bombings, Attack helicopters chasing down cars through city streets, boys throwing rocks at machine gun-wielding soldiers.
In many ways I grew numb to the horror and violence as I retreated to my secure dock overlooking a broad expanse of peaceful water. I can relax as the sun sets over another quite evening in my home-town.
The Trade Center brought the violence closer to home for all of us. Those distant accounts affecting other peoples lives now impacted people I know.
President Bush outlined to a questioning nation the necessity of a resolute response to terrorism. This would require a massive mobilization of military hardware and forces to strike at selected targets. There will be economic sanctions and an attempt to freeze assets of terrorist groups. Intelligence gathering and cooperation of friendly nations will be essential.
The students in my class also desire a victory over terrorism, yet there is that question of how can a real victory be won without ourselves resorting to murder and terror-filled actions.
Martin Luther King showed how. Though painful, a non-violent approach can bring about change. He had strong feelings about this topic of hate and violence.
He states: "The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." -- Martin Luther King
Violence will never bring a long-term victory over terrorism.
Personally I lean toward being a pacifist. I abhor hate, dehumanization of others so that one can comfortably kill them. Like Martin Luther King states, killing and murder plunges us deeper into the darkness of hate and violence. As a minister to Youth here at McCallie, I am sickened by the thought of another war in which you would be fighting.
Then I look at real situations in history like the destruction of Europe and Hitler's " final solution " campaign that killed six million innocent Jews. I realize that we as humans live in a world where the ideals of non-violence and love are still true, but there are those who are so evil that they must be stopped.
With compassion and the resolute spirit we must search within our own hearts to root out the hatred and hostility that festers within. For this is what separate us from God and each other.
"Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for he guards the lives of his Faithful ones, and delivers them from the hands of the wicked." -- Psalm 97:10