How Naïve can America be?

We live a cushy life in this country, with abundant resources that underprivileged nations can’t imagine having. As Westerners, our lives afford us with the luxuries of life – jobs, houses, cars, and possessions, such as food, water and money. Individuals that live outside of this world simply don’t understand how the life that the West lives coincides with their world. These words are not meant to be a political statement, they are representative of the truth – as there are disparities amongst countries and economics.

For the individuals that live in disadvantaged nations and in countries that are known failed nation states, our lives in the West are something that these individuals consider impure – distasteful even, when it comes to the Islam religion. But, to be clear, we are not dealing with individuals that are just practicing a religion, we are dealing with terrorists and believe it or not, they have their own beliefs.

Terrorism is not new in our world, we just became harshly aware on September 11th. As American’s, we were beyond belief and grief – how could this great nation be attacked – on our soil? It was inconceivable and still today, continues to be. As American’s, we really don’t want to know – this is a real phenomenon in our world, but let’s face it – it would be better if the nightmare of terrorism would just go away. It impacts our lives, our businesses, our personal space.

Yet again this week, we saw another attack in NYC – the second in a month. How does this happen? Why does this continue to happen? What is going on in this world? These individuals – these terrorists must all be crazy…aren’t they? How else can we define what has happened? We’re American’s – we deal with and demand results…why can’t this problem be solved? The answer is because they live everywhere.

First, let’s describe who we are dealing with. When a terrorist strikes – we are dealing with Radical Islamists and these individuals have only one goal in mind – to rid the world of impurity and to return to a pure Islamist state. These individuals are militants, radicals and murderers – all in the name of religion. What they are not, are the individuals that are leading a peaceful life and practicing a religion called Islam. Don’t be naïve and confuse the two groups of people.

Second, let’s discuss Radical Islamists. These individuals want to impact your life. It’s not personal, it really isn’t about you. What is the purpose then? It’s about making an impact, so that they are noticed. It is about making their plight and the difficulties of their nation, community, family and friends noticeable – so much so, that a government will back down and make a policy change. It is also about avenging so many things that have gone wrong in their world, by making sure that lives, such as in the Western world are impacted too. Terrorists want to be noticed by creating an impact.

Third, let’s address the insanity of a terrorist. Well, contrary to popular belief, research has shown that terrorists are not crazy. In fact, many are well educated, middle class citizens, who have had careers as doctors, lawyers and engineers. They are between 25-36 years of age and in the case of a suicide bomber – typically single. They sacrifice their families and careers to belong to a group who understand that they are disenfranchised, disheartened and seeking revenge for the wrongs that have been done to the people and the country that they hold dear. In our world, we would protest, hopefully peacefully. In their world, there is no other way, but to be disruptive, to cause a calamity. They succeed this agenda by going unnoticed, by infiltrating our ways and then to surprise us when we least expect it. The problem is, as average citizens, we continue to be naïve and think that someone else is solving the problem of terrorism. The government has this…maybe NATO or the international community. It’s not my problem…right? As an American, you couldn’t be more wrong – this is your problem.

This article is not about empathy to a group of individuals that sit around and scheme about murdering others. Rather, it is about understanding what in the world we are dealing with.

As American’s, we can’t understand the life of a terrorist, their values and their mission, it just isn’t the world that we know and let’s be honest, we don’t want to know about their lives.

Fourth, it’s time to get our heads out of the sand, to stop being naive. Our lives have forever changed and in the above words by Jacques Chirac, there are no borders and faces. Terrorists live amongst us, they may work with us, they may even be our neighbors. These individuals can lie dormant for years, then suddenly, arise to defeat us and to create chaos. How many times have you heard the words, ‘they were so quiet’, ‘a great person’, ‘who would have known’?

America, it is time that we admitted that our lives need to change. It’s time to become aware, notice individuals that may change drastically or say something that seems so out of place, radical or disruptive. You’ll need to be able to decipher between prejudice, opinions and extremism. This may be a difficult set of statements to interpret, but in our culture, we sometimes say ‘it takes a village’ and in this war on terrorism, our village is needed to help identify those that mean to harm us.


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