This post was originally sent out as part of my newsletter on July 2nd, 2016
“They eat dinner like us. Can you imagine them sitting around the table or wherever they’re eating their dinner, talking about the Americans don’t do waterboarding and yet we chop off heads? They probably think we’re weak, we’re stupid, we don’t know what we’re doing, we have no leadership. You know, you have to fight fire with fire.”
Is this who we are?
Lately, the world has become a bit of a scary place. Every time I turn on the news, every time I check social media highlights, I see more death and more hate. I see a world changing for the worst right before my eyes, and I feel sad, I feel angry, I feel outraged, and I feel 100% powerless to do anything about it.
The latest scary thing was the horrific bombing in Istanbul on Tuesday, which left at least 41 dead and 293. I feel for the victims, I feel for their families, and I feel for the rest of the world cowering in fear wondering when they, we, will be next. I feel for the future victims of further attacks too, because I know the end is nowhere in sight. I know this because I watch the world react, and I watch as nothing changes.
I watch people reacting to hatred with more hatred. It’s hard to stand on the sidelines and watch a situation escalate. It is hard to watch each side become more suspicious as each ups the anti hoping to win ground over the other. It’s hard to see a future coming at us 100 MPH where there is nothing but more suffering and more people killing people for the same stupid reasons we always have. A future where we battle and beat one another thinking, we will emerge from the wreckage and destruction victorious, unscathed, and without even a little bit of regret.
The future we think will come is a lie. The future that will come is bleak and painful.
We will crawl from that wreckage bruised, broken, and eventually, when the dust settles, we will look back and feel guilt, shame, remorse, and regret, but it will be too late. Remember the past people! Remember the slaughter of the Native Americans, remember slavery, segregation, and Jim Crow laws, remember the Japanese internment camps, remember all the lives lost, not just our soldiers, that’s bad enough, but all the innocent lives caught in the crossfire. Remember what we lost because we were fighting wars with people we didn’t understand. People we were afraid of because they were different.
I know we have to protect our country. I know we have to fight evil around the world. I agree with those points but are we really doing all we can to resolve our differences before risking American lives? Will we lose more lives by fighting fire with fire than using conversation, compromise, and common ground? Are we even fighting the right people?
As usual, I have only questions; I have no answers. I only know that there are many places in the world that need America’s help. Genocides are happening in many parts of the world, are we willing to fight for those people? Young girls are being kidnapped and raped, are we willing to send troops to save them? Children are starving and dying of preventable diseases, how much are we spending to feed and provide health care for them?
“We’re living in Medieval times. We have to stop it. We have to be so strong, we have to fight so viciously and so violently, because we’re dealing with violent people, vicious people…”
There are horrors and suffering everywhere, all over the world, but it seems the US, and all of the western world, only have eyes for the Middle East. Why?
Add to that the fact that most terrorist attacks are carried out by US citizens, and you can see where it seems like this is about more than protecting American lives. I don’t mean to say there is a conspiracy. I mean to say that a lot of powerful people have noticed the very human tendency to focus all of our fear, anxiety, and unsatisfaction onto people who look different, speak differently, worship in a different way, and have used it to their advantage.
They take all that natural fear and anxiety you have, and they get you all worked up. They take that fear and anxiety and promise you that they can take care of it by taking care of those people. They more you get worked up the harsher they promise to be to those people and the better you feel. It is a human reaction, predictable but preventable.
None of this is news, and yet, more and more people in this country are supporting a candidate who recently called for a ban on Muslim immigration. A candidate calling for a ban on letting people in who are trying to get away from the same people we say are the true evil in this world. A candidate who believes that profiling based on religion, and let’s be honest, race, is something we should get back to. A candidate who thinks waterboarding and worse are called for as first steps.
“We should go for waterboarding and we should go tougher than waterboarding.”
Is this who we are?
Does a man like that speak for America?
Is this the kind of country we want to build?
I thought we were better than that. I thought we were above that. I thought we were about creating a place where everyone can find life, liberty, and the engage in the pursuit of happiness.
How does fear, hatred, war, and torture play into any of that?
I thought we were about people being innocent until proven guilty and everyone getting their day in court. Lately, we’ve been pretty quick to call for, at best, American contempt and disregard for an entire race and at worst torture, imprisonment, and death of all people’s belonging to a certain religion based on non-existent evidence.
Is that the new American way?
All I’m saying is, it hurts to hear the leaders of this country disregard the lives of other human beings. It hurts to hear them lie to our faces and pretend to care about American lives all the while planning and plotting to send our people to fight dirty wars. Wars where they will die or come back worse off than when they left.
It hurts when you see the past repeating itself over and over again and politicians promising different results. It hurts when you hear them manipulating the people around me into believing the past is always better than the future and that brawn is more useful than brains.
It hurts when you hear a man who is running for leader of the free world and has made our tendency to follow the crowd and let our emotions cloud our reason a cornerstone of his campaign.
The world is a scary place. It isn’t scary because of the people who aim to put fear into us. No, it’s scary because the people who pretend to be on our side but have do not have the capability to see beyond their emotions or think about human life as something precious and worth saving whenever possible, no matter what that life may look like and how different it is from our own.
It’s scary because no one who has the power to do so is willing to find a better way. No one is willing to fight hate with love and understanding.
All I’m saying is, let’s just take a minute to think about what we are doing before we do something we can’t take back.
That’s all I ask.
“The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families, when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families. They care about their lives, don’t kid yourself. When they say they don’t care about their lives, you have to take out their families.”
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Featured image via JMacPherson