Don’t Fight Fire With Fire
It seems that everyone who appears on TV wants war. The media, the congressmen, the military officials are calling for immediate retaliatory actions. Before the people of this country have begun to mourn, before we even know who was responsible for the attacks, a large military response seems inevitable.
It doesn’t matter where or who or how much to strike; just something to cause pain, to cause more destruction, so that we may feel better. But if you think about it, you know that no good can come of more violence. I’m not speaking about turning the other cheek or taking the high ground. Simply, on a rational level, there is no way that more violence will solve anything.
Emotionally, only time can heal our collective grief. The loss that thousands of families have recently endured cannot be assuaged with the loss of more lives. No one will feel better if we annihilate another culture.
Strategically, the call for more violence has no merit. First, we don’t know who was responsible for the attacks. There is no hard evidence as of yet, and no one has claimed responsibility. This has not stopped speculation and the subsequent preparations for retaliation. If the persons responsible are found, and the U.S. does retaliate, it will no doubt cost the lives of many innocent people, as it has in previous wars. Secondly, many politicians have said we must use force as deterrence “to make sure people understand the U.S. will not tolerate this.” How can a person or group ready to commit suicide possibly be deterred by violence? They can’t be. The only effect of U.S. retaliation will be to provoke further attacks.
It’s obvious that we can’t defend against these attacks either -- even with our enormous arsenal, we could not stop the attacks. Nevertheless, congressmen are already using this tragedy to push for more spending on defense, and specifically on missile defense. But greater defense as a deterrent is ludicrous. The criminals knowingly and intentionally attacked the United States, the most heavily armed nation in the history of mankind. Not only did this not deter the criminals, but their heinous acts were carried out quite easily. No missile defense system could possibly have stopped the attacks. My question is, how will spending more on what didn’t work in the first place help to ensure that this doesn’t happen again?
It’s not altogether a surprise that attacks of this sort could happen again. That’s where our fear and our insecurity come from. What do we as a society do to ensure our security? Do we support more violence? Do we find security in the suspension of our civil liberties? Do we okay the reallocation of education and social security funds to defense? We have to do something to feel safe, it’s a natural human instinct, but is bombing another country the answer?
Maybe we can begin by trying to understand what happened, and why it happened. If we can understand the motivations behind the crimes, we may find a peaceful and affective way to stop future attacks. To do this, we cannot simply demonize those we perceive to be our enemy. We cannot point and say, “EVIL,” because that’s not understanding; that’s simply propaganda meant to make killing a whole lot easier on the conscience. Instead of asking what kind of monster could do something like this, we should ask what could drive another human being to act with such deplorable behavior.
Understand that I’m not trying to justify Tuesday’s attacks. They were despicable acts of human behavior, and those perpetrators who are still living should be brought to justice. Nor do I mean to lessen the importance of the suffering of the victims and their families. I still feel sick about what happened to those people. But the current atmosphere of war and death is simply not the path to healing.
At home, the culture of fear and violence that could potentially erupt because of hard-line actions abroad is very disheartening. Already I’ve heard stories of Americans being attacked because of the color of their skin. At this school, e-mails expressing racism and hatred have begun circulating. We have to remember how insignificant, and at the same time, how important we all are. We all live on a this planet together, surrounded by the vacuum of space, and in the end, we are all we have. It sounds novel and trite, and there’s little chance anything can come of it, but I don’t know what else to say -- peace.