Saturday, September 18, 2010

Grace in a land of Fear and Fury

I've been thinking a lot lately about what might be wrong with the way we, as citizens of the United States, see the world. I mean, there are plenty of examples of "what not to do" going on right now. Terry Jones' actions set off a new wave of anger and hatred toward Americans. The fear and subsequent bigotry toward those of the Muslim faith show in a million small and large ways, as in the calamity over the Islamic Community Center planned for Manhattan.

Reading yesterday's Pioneer Press Editorial section gave me a moment of pause. I read the submission by Mr. Tom Meek, "What I learned from the Dayton's bombing." Now this was a bombing in the department store Dayton's back in 1970. I wasn't born yet, and don't remember ever learning anything about this or any other types of "homeland terror" during my childhood. Especially here in Minnesota, known as the Nice state (we're just that passionate) it doesn't seem possible that a person could set off a bomb that would surely harm innocent people. I mean, good Minnesotan just don't DO that stuff. And not in a beloved Dayton's store, either. But I digress.

Reading the article brought forth something else to think about, other than, 'Yes, people in Minnesota CAN make that choice.' Mr. Meek's mother was right next to the detonated bomb, and was subsequently severely injured. She never fully recovered, and yet spent the rest of her life working to help the plight of those who set off the bomb. 'What?' Yes, she understood that the people who set off the bomb were doing so in retaliation to circumstances caused by greater forces than mere people. She saw the truth in the frustration and anger behind the creation and use of the bomb. And she knew that she had a choice in how to react to her own, newly altered place in that situation. She showed an amazing sense of grace, and the love of God for herself, her family and those who caused her life to change so drastically.

Places all over the world are dealing with groups of people who are frustrated and angry; generally over many lifetimes of not getting enough of their basic needs met to feel stable. These groups cause chaos and fear through bombs and attacks on innocent people. For many years, many decades really, our nation (and many more) have retaliated by focusing their counterattacks against those who are rising up. But I wonder if it wouldn't be more effective to focus a counterattack against those who are causing the frustration and anger in the first place? I mean, as a mother, I can see a child being naughty/making a poor choice, and I can focus my discipline against that inappropriate act. This may change the situation for a moment or more, but unless I figure out why the child is making this choice (that they surely know will get them into trouble) then I will be forced to repeat the battle again and again and again.

But if I realize that the child is hungry or tired or sick or bored, I can offer new opportunities for the child to meet those needs in a more appropriate manner.

I fully understand that adults who choose terroristic acts are far from those of a child. But are the influences behind terroristic groups that complex? It doesn't seem to be the case in those I've seen so far.

I pray that those who act out in fits of anger and frustration who spread terror and pain are somehow touched with the love of God (under whatever umbrella is available to them) and that their needs are met. And I pray for all those working toward ending those acts of terror, who rely on the direction of those in power far from the areas being attacked. I pray that more people can share in the grace that Mrs. Meek lived. That more people can see the humanity behind the terror; the struggles of all people to have food, shelter, safety, love and dignity.

There is never an acceptable act of terror. There is never an acceptable act that causes pain, harm and death. There is never an acceptable excuse for choosing to commit those acts, but there is always a place for understanding, empathy and sympathy for our fellow human beings, which we all, imperfectly are.

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