The right fight
Gunmen are taking hostages and killing innocent civilians in Sidney and Paris, all in the name of religion. The method may be a newer one, but the idea is very old. Corrupt kings and power-hungry priests of every religion have used violence, or the threat of it, as long as written history records. It’s so old that five-hundred years ago, when Henry VIII wanted a new wife, he decided that another religion, with himself as both legal and moral leader of course, just might do the trick. Well, that and a few thousand beheadings as incentive. Christians, Jews, Muslims are all guilty of it at some point. The Pilgrims, Puritans, and most other Protestants fled to the New World for that very reason. You might even say we became a country because the promise of religious freedom beckoned from our shores.
If it’s so old then why does religious terrorism still shake us? Why does modern America seem to keep time with that infamous date – Sept.11, 2001? For me, it was as if the hands of America’s clock stopped when I watched those towers fall. Suddenly, our undefeatable Pentagon was no longer anything except a building that could be destroyed like any other. Even our favorite heroes cried and died that day. But the story wasn’t a new one, so why did it feel so horribly, horrifically new to all of us?
I believe the answer lies in the innocence, and even ignorance, that America lost that day. Like the collective shock to this country that Pearl Harbor was, 9/11 was a singular event that brought us into war. Unlike WWII, however, there has never been a single country or leader that could sign a treaty and end our modern wars. Our enemy is surely as evil and anti-Semitic as the Nazis, but their war was effectively lost with Hitler’s suicide. In contrast, the Islamic extremist is a virtual Grecian Hydra – cut of one head and two more take its place.
Another marked difference between Pearl Harbor and 9/11 was that the war against terrorism came and, in many ways, has stayed on our own land. Once WWII was over, America regained some innocence in spite of the scars that the Holocaust left on the entire world. Since 9/11, however, we are simply marking time until the next bomb, bullet, or airplane hits. I’ve been haunted by that fact again as I’ve prayed for the people of France and Australia. We are not a rationed people who will return to the meat and sugar we love once our boys come home. The rationing in this war is not rubber, steel, or food…it is our liberties and beliefs. There are certain liberties we’ve all surrendered, but they can’t take away our beliefs unless we let them.
Our modern day enemy trickles across every border until the lines are too blurred to see clearly. It infects disaffected Americans and previously peaceable Muslim friends. It bows to the lowest common denominator among mankind – hatred. Every religious and political extremist knows that hatred sells their cause because it’s much easier than tolerance or forgiveness.
So what do we do if these wars literally never end? How long must we be willing to fight the Hydra monster? The answer is this: We must be prepared to fight for as long, as hard, and in every moral way that it takes.
I will never accept that murdering civilians in the name of Jihad is anything more than a coward’s way to make himself feel more important than he really is. I will never accept that because, at times, religion has been a vehicle of terrorism that it is meant to be that way. Religion should be faith that makes us love each other more, not less.
And in that spirit, I am going to say something to the terrorists of 9/11 that I’ve never said before … I forgive you. Every inhumane beast that straps bombs to children – I forgive you. Every bigoted, anti-Semitic Jihadist … I forgive you. Every violence loving, woman oppressing, freedom suppressing terrorist … I forgive you. You have flown planes into our buildings, beheaded our people, destroyed America’s innocence … and I still forgive you. I will fight you in every way I can and with my last breath, but I still forgive you.
Now get ready to run, ISIS, Al Queda, or whatever you’ve named yourself today. Your fight may be an old one, but ours is the right one.
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