Saturday, August 13, 2005

Treading Lightly

As a pacifist, I abhor violence in all its forms. I think war is an abomination on the sanctity of life. I believe that killing innocent people to further a political objective is downright unethical. Whatever a person's ends, I reject the use of violence as a means.

All that said, I can still respect a soldier of any army. While I may vehemently disagree with the machinations of war, I do respect those who believe what they believe so strongly that they are willing to jeopardize their own life to further their objective.

This is why, though I steadfastly reject the Bush administration's rationale for "war" in Afghanistan and Iraq, I am NOT a hater of the individuals who serve in our armed forces. Likewise, while I concurrently reject the killing of innocents, I also respect many of the suicide bombers.

I know this last statement will rile many. They will view such sentiment as "aiding and comforting the enemy", unpatriotic, treasonous, and supporting terrorism. But, my response to such talk is that they are confusing two issues -- the act itself with the personal dedication to a belief that serves as the motivator to the act. I adamantly repudiate the former, while I can begrudgingly respect the latter.

After the horrific carnage of 9/11, I heard many an American refer to the hijackers as devout cowards. Cowards? They willingly flew planes into buildings guaranteeing themselves an instant death. For me, that's NOT the act of a coward. Madmen, yes. Cowards, no.

Think about this for a minute. A person straps a bomb on their body. At a predetermined time and place, they detonate the bomb. They willingly kill themselves in a most horrific way for a cause they believe in.

I'm certain some of these people have been brainwashed. They have been led to do this dastardly deed because of charasmatic leaders who suck them in through false praise and promises. For such people, my reaction is pity, not respect. But I'm certain there are those individuals who have thought deeply about what they're about to do. For those people willing to sacrifice their hopes and dreams to further the aspirations of their people, that says a lot to me about their belief and dedication to their ideals.

I may disagree with those ideals. I may reject the religious underpinnings. I may abhor the means chosen. And I certainly damn the fact that innocent lives randomly are snuffed out. Still, all that said, I can respect the devotion.

How many of us can truly say we'd willingly blow ourselves up to defend the foundational principles we hold dear? Not too many of us, I think.

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