“I don’t care; I’ll shoot the kid! I’m gonna kill him before he kills me.” This is only a small taste of the thirty-minute monologue I listened to in my Forensics class. I sat frozen in my seat, eyes wide, brow furrowed, and jaw open in my seat as I listened to the hatred pouring from my teacher’s lips. She was angry, I knew, but each time she followed a prejudiced and heartless comment with “I’m not racist” I wanted to walk out of the classroom. All around me my classmates sat laughing and agreeing with her.
How did a single sentence about the Patriot Act turn into a rally to kill anyone who fit into her loose definition of a terrorist? How could a class of 25 or more students laugh at the thought of killing a young child strapped to a bomb, predestined for death. The same image brings tears to my eyes as I consider not only the precious life of an innocent child forced into a situation he could not possibly understand, but the heart-wrenching decision of the soldier who must now take the life of a child. Of the ghosts that must haunt him. A situation so weighty and real should not be laughed at.
Whenever a situation like this jars me out of the fantasy place where I live so happily in my head and I am confronted with the harsh reality of my world, it strikes me like an arrow through the heart. What is humanity without compassion? What is a world devoid of love? What future can we have if we sacrifice our love to hatred, our understanding to judgment?
I understand that terrorism is a real issue. I know my preferred plan-of-action, which consists primarily of “let’s all hold hands around the campfire and sing kumbayah,” is not the solution to centuries of animosity and hatred between two cultures. What we have tried, however, hasn’t worked. This I’ll-kill-you-before-you-kill-me approach isn’t solving any problems; it has only deepened the wound. Hatred cannot fight hatred. It can only feed a fire which will someday swallow the world in its enormity.
We have to examine our world as doctors would a sick child. We must ask “Where does it hurt?” and “How do you feel?” and then we must use what we know to fix this world. No doctor gives a sick child poison to heal it. Adding more hatred to the world will not fix its problems. We must ask the right questions. Why are there terrorists? How can we define a terrorist? What caused terrorism and what are its effects? And, finally, what is our solution?
Perhaps it is naïve to cling to a belief as childish as “good will win over evil” or “love can triumph in the face of hatred.” I bask happily in the promise of that naivety. It keeps me warm on cold nights and holds my hand in the face of the strongest wind. It has been my companion for a very long time, and I do not mind the moments it has made me seem childlike or innocent. I do not believe I will live to see the end of terrorism. There will always be darkness in our world. I only hope that somehow, my existence can even the scales. I hope that my generation and I can be the beginning of a movement which throws off the shrouds of hatred and opens our hearts and minds. We have danced to the beat of war drums for far too long. I hope someday the world will dance hand-in-hand to the melodies of compassion, understanding, and, above all, love.