By Nancy Churchill
Violence begets violence. Violence is easy. It is borne of hate and fear. Terrorists win when their strikes succeed in spreading more violence.
Peace is hard. It takes courage and resolve, wisdom and understanding.
We succumbed to fear after 9/11. Little did George W. Bush realize, when he stood beneath the “Mission Accomplished” banner aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, that it was Osama bin Laden’s mission that had been accomplished. Bin Laden bragged (Al-Jazeera broadcast, 10/29/04) that the continuing guerrilla warfare against the U.S. was intended to “[bleed] America to the point of bankruptcy” as al Quieda had “bled Russia for 10 years” in Afghanistan, “until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat.”
The fear bin Laden fomented with his attacks provoked Bush’s invasion that, under false pretenses, destroyed Iraq, justifying the rise of ISIS, whose reprisals have goaded us into further strikes that attract new recruits in a vicious cycle that plays right into the terrorists hands.
This appears to be the rational behind the recent ISIS strikes in Paris. Of course the knee-jerk response is that we must strike back with everything we can muster.
It’s crucial that we not humor terrorists by succumbing to hate and fear, but find the courage to wage peace in the region instead.
But how? “When the power of LOVE,” says a Facebook poster, “overcomes the love of POWER the world will know PEACE.” Einstein declared, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Time to grow up and develop a new paradigm. Time to enlist the world of Non Violence.
Marshall Rosenberg points out the first step toward Non Violent Communication, in a book by that name, is to understand where the opposing side is coming from. Something else Bin Laden said might be instructive: “Contrary to Bush’s claim that we hate freedom,” he said, “… let him explain to us why we don’t strike for example — Sweden? No, we fight because we are free men who don’t sleep under oppression. We want to restore freedom to our nation, just as you lay waste to our nation, [s]o shall we lay waste to yours.”
In other words, Bin Laden and many others like him view the United States as the aggressor, laying waste to their nation. Before we reject that notion outright, we should take a look at our aggressive past here: academic.evergreen.edu/g/grossmaz/interventions.html. According to Zoltan Grossman, one Turkish newspaper “urges that the United States be listed in Guinness Book of World Records as the Country with the Most Foreign Interventions.” Conquest on behalf of economic interests is not only violence, it’s theft.
To reverse that image we must reverse the practice, reject our warring past and begin waging peace by making restitution with all victims of violence. Become, not the primary aggressor, but merely a willing support system for those fighting ISIS and other terrorists in their own countries.
And, for crying out loud, take in the refugees! There could be no greater slap in the face to those people of the region to convince them we are indeed their enemy, than turning away their desperate refugees! The American thing to do is take them in, following thorough U.S. security screenings already in place. That will go a long way toward convincing the world that we have turned a page, and are ready to wage peace.
Because only peace can beget peace.