Terrorism is an act of striking debilitating fear into the minds of others. Terrorism can be inflicted one-on-one, or onto whole communities of any size. Sometimes terrorism is intentional. On other occasions it may simply be unintended consequences.

Terror is a matter altogether different from terrorism. We tend to overlook that fact.

By way of example let’s consider the pit bull. Generally people are fearful of pit bulls simply because of the reputation. Yet, a well-trained pit bull can be gentle and protective. Even so, when a pit bull appears in an aggressive posture it strikes terror into those around it.

Now consider the lowly Chihuahua. They are small and always noisy. Yet, they don’t strike fear into anyone, except me. I have one. He hates me and bites my fingers while I am in bed and have my hands under the covers where he can’t see them. He has sharp teeth and I live in terror of him…except when he cuddles up next to me. I choose to keep my hands where he can see them. As a result neither of us is terrorized.

That is about the best example I can come up with.

Because of the reputation of some followers of the Islamic religion we tend to see all Muslims as pit bulls. Yet, those that seek to be part of a family and loving and live by the bulk of their doctrine are positive influences in any community. However, certain teaching of Islam, when activated can be very traumatic for all those around them.

Now, lest someone get the idea that I am isolating Islam I offer a bit more. In the Old Testament there are repetitious instances of the Israelites being directed to slaughter others. Additionally, there are stories of them in their worst days, slaughtering simply because they could.

That is the environment of the Middle East. Culturally, opposed populations seeking to one-up-manship each other. The western civilization is so far removed from that culture deep comprehension of it is nearly impossible. It has become, or has always been, not simply an eye for an eye. It is a life for an eye.

Consequently, the entire region lives, and dies, in terror. Some of the terror comes self-imposed. Other parts of it come from overt acts of terrorism. Yet, even other forms come simply from reputations. “I must keep my eye out…for the one who would take my life.”

In western culture, especially in the United States of America, we have lived in relative comfort safe from terrorism or terrorizing thoughts. As the potential for terrorism expands and becomes more pervasive our fears become exaggerated into immobilizing terror. We react all wrong.

Rather than responding to growing real threats with measured calculated planning and anticipation our propensity is to react with violence and debates. Repeating, that is wrong. As implied, as a nation, we should respond with a measured and calculated plan that anticipates potential threats. With such a plan in place terrorism will be more likely stymied, and terror will be more likely mitigated.

“Bombing the hell” out of international states that house terrorists is not a measured and calculated plan. My own fears and concerns have had me on more than one occasion suggesting that “bombing the bastards” back to the Stone Age was a proper course. That is anger speaking, but not just anger. It is my own form of terrorism…which holds no more merit than does my enemy’s.

People are fond of accusing President Obama of lacking a strategy to deal with terrorists. Many see him as pandering to terrorists, lying to Americans, or worse being incompetent to deal with the real and present threat. Whether those assessments are true or not begs the bigger question. Isn’t this a challenge for our entire national leadership to address?

The existing terror within the hearts and minds of Americans, and the terrorizing influences we face, demand a measured and calculated plan of response. The crisis is the fear. It is not how many and who crosses the borders. It is not even about the potential for another skyscraper to be leveled by a bomb. The crisis, which it really is, is the fear. Said President Franklin D. Roosevelt:

“I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impel. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts…”

Our duly elected leaders speak of messages, walls, bombs, boots on the ground, and drones. But, for all of their droning on and on the prevailing wailing of the warning sirens is political rhetoric, devoid of cooperation.

Republicans blame Democrats, Liberals blame Conservatives, Congress blames the President and the Supreme Courts naps through it all. Perhaps Johnny Cash played it best with his catchy tune “The One On The Right Is On The Left.”

There once was a musical troupe
A pickin’ singin’ folk group
They sang the mountain ballads
And the folk songs of our land

They were long on musical ability
Folks thought they would go far
But political incompatibility led to their downfall

Well, the one on the right was on the left
And the one in the middle was on the right
And the one on the left was in the middle
And the guy in the rear was a Methodist

This musical aggregation toured the entire nation
Singing the traditional ballads
And the folk songs of our land
They performed with great virtuosity
And soon they were the rage
But political animosity prevailed upon the stage

Well, the one on the right was on the left
And the one in the middle was on the right
And the one on the left was in the middle
And the guy in the rear burned his driver’s license

Well the curtain had ascended
A hush fell on the crowd
As thousands there were gathered to hear the folk songs of our land
But they took their politics seriously
And that night at the concert hall
As the audience watched deliriously
They had a free-for-all

Well, the one on the right was on the bottom
And the one in the middle was on the top
And the one on the left got a broken arm
And the guy on his rear, said, “Oh dear”

Now this should be a lesson if you plan to start a folk group
Don’t go mixin’ politics with the folk songs of our land
Just work on harmony and diction
Play your banjo well
And if you have political convictions keep them to yourself

Now, the one on the left works in a bank
And the one in the middle drives a truck
The one on the right’s an all-night deejay
And the guy in the rear got drafted

Americans are both fearful and frustrated. Congress and the president wander the streets of Washington DC singing “Who let the dogs out” implying that blame is the answer to the challenge. The more relevant question should be raised.

Who will bring the dogs in? Whether they are pit bulls or Chihuahuas the terrorist litter is too large for 536 elected officials to be individually running around pointing at each other when rabies is at the door.

The one on the right and the one on the left need to meet in the middle. Cooperatively, despite political and personal animosities, Congress and the President need to develop a strategy. The terrors which we are experiencing are not the president’s alone to resolve. This is a joint effort and it is time for Congress and the president to set aside partisan bickering and establish a rational policy.


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