Another September 11th passed this week, only to remind us that racial and religious hatred is not only alive but thriving around the world. Have we learned any lessons during the past decade?
When one looks at the deadly unrest taking place in the Middle East, allegedly, as a result of a film that denigrates the Muslim religion, it raises the necessity and urgency to mitigate if not eradicate the demagoguery and terrorists practices on all sides. Innocent lives were lost. Rampant violence and destruction abound. No one is without responsibility. No one is without blame. The only distinction is the matter of degree to which each of us bears.
Just when America thought that, after a decade of elaborate memorials to those who lost their lives on 911, this year was to be the first in which we transitioned into a time for private and intimate memorials. But throughout the Arab world, anti-American protests bombarded those private memorials all week.
American Embassies in Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, Tel Aviv, and Libya were the targets of angry Muslims. In Libya, four Americans, including our Ambassador to Libya, lost their lives. Many of the demonstrators lost their lives as well. All this mayhem is the result of religious, racial, and cultural intolerance.
In the 21st Century, we still search for a more civilized society, where words and reason must replace guns and acts of violence. Will man ever fully control the warring nature within? Will we always face the “Barbarians at the Gate” ready to tap into the savage and the base?
Unfortunately, we, including our children, often watch such hateful, violent, and senseless behavior unfold in real time in the family and living rooms of our homes. How do we explain the senselessness of it all to a curious child, or do we bother to explain it at all?
How do we as parents, teachers, caring adults, respond to the questions innocent children ask:
Why did those people die? Why are they burning our flag?
An informed explanation might lead to the beginning of better things to come, perhaps not in our lifetime; what if those explanations improve the lives of future generations? How can we not take the time to discuss the realities with our children, grandchildren?
There are those calling for America to make a swift and decisive response, not only to bring justice for the Americans killed, but to quell the impending threats on our embassies and the dedicated American citizens who work there. No doubt, America should. No doubt, America will.
If there is a bright spot, we can rest in knowing that the terrorists and despots are currently in the minority in those countries, including the United States, where they persist in raising their barbaric heads.
However, what are the longer-term strategies? What will make the world a more peaceful place? How should we move forward — hopeful or resigned?
Remember, future generations are listening and watching.