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Disempowering Terrorism

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civilization by panaromio.com
   Not this time.   This time, we will not be terrorized.   We refuse to give you that power.

   We don't yet know your name, but we know precisely who you are.   You think you are new, but your kind has been with us since the dawn of time.   We can never rid ourselves of you but we can disempower you by the simple act of speaking your name.   You are savages, nothing more.

   Your barbarism confuses us.   When you attack we call it "senseless."   We say acts of terror like the Boston Marathon bombing are pointless, mindless, meaningless.   Then we look for a "cause."   The contradiction is striking.   We are perplexed by your viciousness.

   No more.   We know who you are.   Your terror is savagery, it is barbarism, it is a vicious and deliberate attack on civilization itself.   You target a marathon, a tall building, a train station, a city bus, an airplane, a race with roots that go back to ancient Greece, the very taproot of our civilization.   The people you kill are collateral damage.

   You can create tragedy, you can kill and maim, you can disturb the entertainment narrative of a superior civilization for a few days, or weeks; the reverberations can go on for years.   But the world keeps trading and the trains and buses and marathoners keep running.

   Some have called you cowardly.   That is an insult to cowards everywhere.   The right word for your murderous terror is futile.

   Don't give into hate, we tell ourselves, or the terrorists win.   Don't be afraid to live our lives or the terrorists win.   Don't let the thirst for revenge drive us down to their level or the terrorists win.

   All that is half true.   Hate and fear and racial profiling and torture are evils to be avoided at all costs.   But not because, if we yield to those base impulses, the terrorists win.

   Because the terrorists can never win.   Let me repeat that for the benefit of the terrorists.   You can never win.   How can you?

   Your target is civilization.   You attack, with puny bombs and box cutters, an edifice ten thousand years in the building.   From the first moment when our hunter-gatherer ancestors put two stones on top of one another to build huts and granaries and pyramids, to laws and language and Rosetta Stones, nations and empires, love songs and legislatures, baseball and marathons, one era hot upon the heels of another, civilization, this jerry-rigged, unconquerable, unfinished business of mankind has graced and disfigured the face of the earth from the Mariana Trench to the littered peaks of Everest.

   And you savages attack all that with a couple of puny bombs in some backpacks on two street corners of one medium-large city of one nation among hundreds in the forlorn hope of killing civilization itself?   No, you can never win.

   This is a hard day and civilized people the world over are hurt and pained and outraged.   We feel for the maimed, we grieve for the murdered, we hurt for the broken families.   We know, deep down in our souls, without being told, that we have all been attacked.   It should hurt.

   But it cannot terrify unless we let it.   Unless we give the terrorists that power.   And we won't, this time we disempower the terrorists.

   Because they have taught us one soothing, indisputable fact.

   Terrorism is not the act of a coward.   It's the act of a loser.

 

San Francisco based columnist, author, gym rat and novelist. My book, "The Confessions of a Catnip Junkie" is the best memoir ever written by a cat. Available on Amazon.com, or wherever fine literature is sold with no sales tax collected. For (more...)
 
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