The temptation is always towards violence. It’s the simple response, nearly unavoidable in the face of the seemingly infinite tragedies befalling our world today. Yet, as a human being it pains me to see good people I know clamoring for our borders to be closed out of fear, innocent bystanders and refugees be damned.
The political sides to this mean nothing to me. And of course, as a pure survival instinct, self-preservation calls for irrational thoughts that seem like great ideas through our visions of rage. But how have we learned nothing from thousands of years of history?
The faces evolve to match the times, but the ultimate goals, the responses, the responses to responses, over and again, leaving little but ashes behind in the end… Even in the rare “victory”, winning their glorious relief, like the most addicting of drugs, the pleasure is fleeting. And so the cycle begins again.
Yet the concern of so many today is those (insert your news source math here, such 5% to 10% of refugees) who “may” be hidden operatives. “We can’t let them in! Our state won’t accept them! We can’t take the risk!” Numbers never lie – but they also very rarely tell the whole story. Who wouldn’t cringe at math like (random numbers as an example I’ve come across) “10% of 8,000 refugees is 800, and the average casualty count per operative this last time was 110, so we’re signing up to kill 88,000 people!”
That type of fear-mongering and pandering for the most clicks and the largest headlines has made avoidance nearly impossible, across all of our information outlets. And as that white-hot rage burns inside us, we lose a piece of ourselves as we write-off the horrifying collateral damage. With 24/7 news cycles and updates at our fingertips, the need for release is palatable.
Do you honestly think, though, these terrorists need an invitation into the country? One way or another, someone that committed to their cause and beliefs will attack you. Yet, right now more than half of all US governors have said they won’t allow Syrian refugees to resettle in their state. When is writing off the 90% in this example, the innocent, an acceptable loss? How can we accept losing our humanity? Why can we justify it to ourselves, simply because we are not the ones pulling the trigger?
If we’re ever looking to stop this insanity – and you’ve probably heard that the “definition of insanity is repeating the same things over and over and expecting a different result” – why can’t we respond with humanity, too, for the innocent masses caught in the crossfire?
Instead, we stoke the international resentment and even downright hatred, fueling the flames and continuing the cycle into infinity. The justifications flood our senses from every direction. We could argue the details and semantics for days, but war goes back to the beginnings of history. One after another, in the end they always fail; even for the “victor”, when there is one. Empires collapse, again and again, to the newer, the larger, the stronger.
I’m not naive enough to think that all war can be stopped, or avoided. In our current world, some are, unfortunately, inevitable. I’m not a Democrat. I’m not a Republican. I’m not military. I’m not into organized religion. I don’t pretend to know all the details. But by allowing our greatest weakness control over our actions, we have nothing to gain, and everything to lose.
What I am is a human being. I do know that we can always find a way to justify the avoidable losses to fill our need for the quick fix of revenge. And for my daughter’s sake, I can only hope someday we’re better than this. I can strive to show her the light of our humanity even though our greatest darknesses.
And maybe, someday, she will be a butterfly effect, a catalyst for change. It could be something huge; I could be raising the future Ms. President. Or maybe she will have a cumulative effect, growing into a much greater, kinder version of myself. Even as I sometimes fall into our common “first world problems” and stresses, I strive to focus on the gift that is our lives. Even as I battle my incessant pain and unknown maladies day after day, I cherish the honor of passing on the gift of life and imparting my knowledge, and wisdom, over time to a tiny me.
Or it may be your son. Your daughter. Maybe it will be a transplanted refugee given a new lease on life. We’ve all hugged our children a little tighter with the latest unavoidable reminders of our fragile world. Hopefully, we can also show them how to ultimately conquer our fears, and break free of this cycle of destruction.
I’ve seen the internet evolve astoundingly over the years, and as much as some may point to certain pieces as signs of “humanity’s collapse”, it’s more amazing to see the real change constantly emerging. Maybe I’m brilliantly naive, but it feels like those silly connections can also grow to one day present us with a path to salvation.
Hopefully, there’s still enough left then to fight for.