The world watched today as innocent civilians were murdered in brutal fashion by three terrorists, one turned himself in and two remain at large. While all acts of terrorism should rightfully be condemned, it is especially disgusting to see civilians attacked because radical persons are offended by religiously offensive cartoons. The world will change in the wake of the loss of these persons. It changed in the duration of the last moments of the lives of the fallen, it changed in the hunt for the suspects, and it will change again when the murder trials begin. Unfortunately, other radicals will be inspired by today’s action, but thankfully, so many more are inspired to say that they abhor terrorism. Je suis Charlie, they say, in regards to the Charlie Hebdo magazine office and its staff targeted today.
Terrorism and freedom collide. It happens over and over again in history. That’s not to say the people who died today deserved to die. They did not. They did not deserve to be victimized for their life’s work, in spite of how this work offended others.
There is a false sense of security we all, non-radical Muslims included, are lulled into when we believe we are safe from such attacks. I don’t want to go into detail about my beliefs regarding tactics, strategies, and the role of complacency and vigilance in preventing victimization and being victimized. There are things I know and believe based on how I was taught as a United States Marine. No one is perfect at preventing themselves from becoming a victim of any number of crimes, especially terrorism. However, we should not cower in fear. Being afraid to live lets terrorists (of all sorts) win.
We should mourn the passing of every person who died today, just as our hearts have mourned other terrorist victims. Their lives were snuffed out in cold blood. Children will grow up without their parents. Spouses will go on without their partners. Life dreams will never be fulfilled. A business has suffered the incredible loss of valuable team members. A nation has seen terrorism creep under its doorstep and invite itself in.
I wanted to write recently about the end of the war in Afghanistan but clearly, today’s terrorist act proves that terrorism is an insidious weed that crops up time and time again. Its locale changes. Tactics change. Victims have new names and new faces. Terrorists are replaced by new followers. But we can take terrorism down at its knees because terrorism is oppressed when the world stands united and says, no more.
It is a daily battle to combat terrorism and it’s not always easy, but it requires people to live their lives. Enjoy each day you are given. Seek out work you enjoy and keep good company with your family, friends, and peers. Seek out new challenges and great adventures. Do not be afraid to fail because that is how you learn and thrive. Enjoy your privileges and seek to make them available to others. Equality requires us to recognize the disenfranchisement of others, empower them, and find ways to reduce social injustices. It is a global effort to cut the bloodlines that feed terrorism, but it is up to ordinary citizens to take the first steps. The more steps we take together, the more victories we make. Do not be afraid to make the world safer for yourself and your respective communities.