The object of terrorism is to strike fear into the hearts of the people, and to sow discord among our leaders. The objective is to cripple the populace and in turn, damage the economy, and the very culture. In years past, it was the last chance weapon of the powerless, but has now devolved to become a tool of the unhinged. Today's technology serves to put catastrophic power into the hands of a few individuals. Whether they are building pressure cooker bombs, shooting crowds in movie theatres or bombing a government building, they have the same objective: to inflict maximum damage and to demoralize on a large scale. The only way to defeat the purpose of these faceless people is to not bow down to the fear they seek to sow.
In the winter of 2002, I got on a plane and flew to JFK with my dog Logan. We were going to the Westminster Kennel Club Dogshow. When I flew, the plane was nearly empty. When we landed, portions of the airport seemed abandoned. I remember that my mother was horrified that I'd take such a risk, and my friend Kazu just shook his head when I explained that I refused to be afraid.
Walking through Manhattan with my dog, I could see pain and despair in the eyes of New Yorkers. They made eye contact with strangers, and even the most strident store-keepers were subdued. More than one person took the opportunity to pet and cuddle Logan, who was a licensed therapy dog. At the show, one woman sat with him and melted into tears, her face buried in his neck. After a good, hard cry, she got up, wiped her eyes and left without a word. She was courageous in her grief.
We visited Ground Zero, and in spite of the crowds filing in to pay their respects, the site was deafeningly silent. It was one of the more powerful places I've ever been in my life.
I was raised in a Mormon family and there's been a lot of talk about this being the Last Days. I do not believe that. I do not believe in fate and I do not believe in living without hope. I do not believe in letting fear rule my life. After all, simply being born brings myriad hazards with it. Every time we take a step out our doors, we run all sorts of risks. And if we let fear have its way, they've won.
We live in frightening times, and I don't know what the answers are. I do know that our world leaders are failing on a monumental basis. I know that a radical change will have to come over the world of the future. More violence? Hunting down and killing terrorist leaders? My initial thought was that its time to resurrect Madame Guillotine and Iron Masks.
Perhaps we should be force feeding IS members anti-psychotic drugs and broadcast episodes of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood into their households. Heck, medical marijuana might be the answer. I don't know. I don't know.
But look up at the image at the beginning of the article. She's the symbol of the French Revolution, which might have been one of the single most bloody, horrific episodes in history, but from that revolution, American revolutionaries drew inspiration.
Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.
When we needed them, the French were there for us. Now we are there for them. This is not the time for fear. This is not the time for politics. In fact, I wish all the candidates and talking heads would just go crawl into their respective holes and shut their mouths. But they won't. They'll politicize the event and try to gain traction and sow fear in order to rise in the polls. Which in its way is a form of terrorism. But I digress.
Je Suis Paris.