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Sometimes God puts an idea my head and I can't let it go until I do something about it. This is one of those times.
This is an open letter to terrorists. I don't really believe terrorists visit my website, but you never know what God has planned and so I'm being obedient to that voice that tells me to do something a little different. I have no illusions that my little tome will change the world, but it could perhapsjust maybechange a few hearts somewhere, and that's good enough for me. Anyway, it can't hurt and doesn't cost anything, so why not? I leave it to you to decide if it has anything to say to you.
This letter is intended for all those who consider America their enemy. It is written by one of those very Americans you consider to be decadent, or heretical, or perhaps just indifferent to the plight of you and your people. In any case, it is intended for you, and I hope you will consider these words carefully.
First, we need to come to an understanding. The first thing I want you to know is that I am not your enemy. I never was and never will be. I'm just a guy like you trying to do my best to provide for my family and maybe contribute some good to the world I found myself born into. I am not wealthy (at least by Western standards) nor am I particularly political. I don't have a stock portfolio, nor do I live in a big, fancy house. Even my car is nothing extraordinary; just a late model mid-range sedan that gets pretty good mileage and gets me around. In other words, I'm just an ordinary American, like most Americans and, the truth be told, most Westerners.
So how am I a threat to you? Why is it necessary that I and millions like me die in order for you to feel better? Did I do or say something you have chosen to take offense at, or is merely the fact that I had the audacity to be born in another country with a different predominant religion and probably a foreign way of doing things that is so difficult for you to accept? I can't see why that would be a threat, but I'm sure you have your reasons.
On to the meat of the matter. The first thing you need to recognize is that no matter how hard you try, how well funded you are, how clever you might be, and how determined you are, you simply can't kill all of us. You can kill many of us, as you proved on 9/11. You can frighten and anger almost all of us, as you proved by bringing down the World Trade Center, and you can hurt all of us, but then none of that is difficult to do. We already live in a fear-based cultureas I'm sure you do toothat has known the threat of Nazism and Communism and the Cold War, AIDs and cancer and crime, and a million other things that have and continue to frighten us, so you are nothing new. You're simply the latest thing to be afraid of, and I'm sure you won't be the last.
And, of course, we can't kill all of you either. No matter how powerful our military, how good our intelligence, or how clever and determined we might be, there will always be a new cadre of people who think like you and are willing to die for "the cause." Such people have always been around and probably always will be, at least until we either manage to successfully destroy ourselves or wake up and finally come to our senses both individually and collectively. So, in effect, we have a stalemate. With six-and-a-half billion people on this planet, that's simply too many people to kill, and with hundreds of thousands of extremists and tens of millions more who either overtly or covertly support them in the world, we can't kill all of you, either. It's simply not possible.
So what do we do now? We aren't going to give up our way of life to conform to your standards, embrace your religion, or see the world the way you do nor do I believe that you are going to set aside your agenda and let yourself become "secularized" and decadent like you accuse us in the West of being. That's just not a realistic option for either of us either.
But we can do one thing. We can try to understand each other. It won't be easy, of course. Those of us you consider your enemies just don't seem to be able to understand what it is that you're so angry about. It has something to do with Israel, I guess, and the Crusades, and probably the vast gulf between rich and poor, and a bunch of other things we can't even begin to imagine, but none of it seems worth killing us over. And I can't believe flying airplanes into buildings and blowing yourselves up with explosives strapped to your body are going to change those things you want to see changed. If it's a matter of wanting a better world for your people, I really don't see how those things are going to produce that. It seems that all the death and destruction that is wrought simply breeds more of the same, just as it always has. Things don't change just because the calendar (at least, our calendar) says it's the twenty-first century; those who live by the sword have always died by the sword, and they always will. It's just a natural byproduct of the philosophy of hate. You folks have been at this for years now; do you see things getting better because of it? Maybe you do. I don't.
But it's still important that we try to understand each other for maybe, if we can, we might be able to find a way to stop all this nonsense and learn to live together. That may sound like a weak, defeatist philosophy, but I think it is actually one of great strength. It is far easier to kill than it is not to kill; to demand revenge rather than to forgive, to demand justice rather than show mercy, and, of course, it's always been easier to hate than it is to love. That's why my proposal is so difficultprecisely because it's so unlike us, no unnatural. But I really don't see any other way out of this mess, do you?
Look, we in the West are not your enemies. Those of other faiths are not either, nor are those even within your own faith that think differently than you do. Those who are wealthier or freer or more privileged are not the reason for your anger, either. The fault lies, as always, within ourselves. In other words, we are our own enemiesthe root cause of all the problems we see around us. Weas in you and Iare the ones who possess the power to make this world a wonderful place or an angry, brutal place. No one can make us hate any more than they can make us love; it is something within us which chooses which we will do. That's a fundamental truth I think you have forgotten (and many in the West have forgotten as well). We have made this world what it is today, both the good and the bad, and we are the ones who will make it what it will be tomorrow. That's the power God or Allah or Jehovah or Krishna or whomever you worship has given us. It's up to us what we will do with it.
So why can't we try and make a better world together? You keep your faith and I'll keep mine (or possess no faith at all, if I so wish. I can't imagine that will harm God all that much, do you?) You do what you think is right, and I'll try not and judge whether your way is better or worse than mine if you promise to do the same. If we won't do it for ourselves, let's do it for our families, our children, our people. It won't be easy, of course, but isn't a better world really at the core of what it is we truly want? It is for me. Hopefully it is for you too. I'm willing to try if you are, so how about it?
I doubt if this letter has changed your mind about how you feel, but hopefully it will help you understand that there are those you call your enemy who would prefer to call you their friend. It would take a fundamental shift in attitudes to change things, no doubt, but that's not out of the question. People change all the time, simply by choosing to do so. It's simply a work of the heart.
And of courage. Do you have that sort of courage, or is yours confined only to killing those you perceive to be your enemy? Think about it.
One you believe to be your enemy
This is the only piece of writing on my site that I am not copyrighting,
so feel free to take it and spatter it all overt the internet if you want. I
only ask that if you do that you will respect the words it contains and not
change them, and that you send it along for noble reasons. It is not a joke;
please don't treat it like one.
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