The Light that is America

We’ve had a rough weekend with terrorist attacks, and some people have died. This barbarianism hurts all of us; it hurts society. There’s a great debate raging about how we deal with this issue and its ties to our immigration policies. How we act will define who we are as a nation for many years to come.

Many years ago there was a political candidate running for election in a major world power. This person’s platform mainly consisted of capitalizing on those who were downtrodden from a great global depression. The candidate kept telling the people that he would make the country great again. He told the people that the country was not great. He told people that the country was not great because there were certain segments of the population that were damaging the country. He told people that he could make the country great again, and that no one else but him could do so. He was an incredibly persuasive speaker who captivated his audiences with his passion and his theatrics. This country had been a major world power, and it had the world’s most powerful military at one point. This candidate told the people that he would help them, and that he would pull them back up to greatness.

This candidate was chosen by the people in a free election. In a short period of time he used many different excuses to consolidate power and ultimately became a dictator. You know the rest of the story; his name was Adolph Hitler. You know the terrible things that he did, and the terrible price the world paid to remove him from power.

The policies and the platform that drove Hitler to power were based upon fear and hatred. Some of the things he said were true. Germany was indeed mistreated in the treaty that ended World War I; it was stripped of nearly everything including its national dignity. The depression hit especially hard there, and people suffered tremendously. They were desperately trying to find hope in a hopeless world.

Our circumstances are quite different. Our great country has not been driven from power and stripped of its dignity. Yes our people have suffered in a great recession from which some people are still recovering. 15 years ago our country suffered a horrible attack.  An attack solely and completely directed at innocent civilians. It was an attack with no warning, and it came with no declaration of war. It was not perpetrated by a traditional enemy; it was perpetrated by dark forces lurking in shadows whose sole purpose was to cause destruction, chaos and fear. Today we call these people terrorists. They know that they cannot destroy us; they have no real capacity to wage war on a grand scale and bring down the most powerful nation that the world has ever seen. That is not their goal. Their goal is to slowly undermine our society and our way of life. Their goal is to push us into an endless conflict from which there will be no winner or end. Their goal is to strip us of our freedom and our dignity. Their goal is to push us into the dark shadows of fear and hatred.

In some way, these terrorists have succeeded in their goals. They have certainly caused fear, and they have caused a lot of destruction. But the worst damage they have inflicted upon us is that they have begun to tear apart our society and our way of life. There are those among us who feel that we should pull back, and cut off all others who wish to come to these shores to obtain a better life than they could in their homeland. Who can blame these people for these feelings after all that’s happened. There are those among us who feel we should segregate and label these people who may possibly be terrorists based upon their religious beliefs, their country of origin, and their skin color. Again, after all that’s happened who could blame anyone for feeling that way.

Adolf Hitler led his country down a path of darkness into a world of hatred, bigotry and unimaginable oppression. Ultimately that path of darkness destroyed Hitler and Germany. 70 years later that country is still looked upon with fear from many in this world. There is a growing movement here with similar philosophies which would take us down that same dark path. However, we must decide as a society whether we will stand strong and hold to our principles and our beliefs, or whether we will be led down the same dark path as those who wish to destroy our way of life.

I pose a question. What is the difference between a Timothy McVeigh and the Muslims who blew up buildings in New York? What is the difference between a person who would blow up a Planned Parenthood clinic killing patients and doctors to protest abortion and the Muslim citizen who shoots his fellow Americans for his jihad? What is the difference between a group of armed thugs who take over a federal wildlife sanctuary and threaten all those in the community who oppose them and those Muslim thugs who kill people in a nightclub?

I don’t know what your answer will be to this question, but my answer is this. There is no difference. These people are the same; they are pure evil. They do not belong among those of us who want to live in a civilized world.

All of these people had one thing in common besides their evil. They were all loners who felt abandoned by their society. They all felt desperate in their need to be important and to be heard. They all felt wronged by the rest of us. I’m not saying this to justify their actions. I’m saying this because this is the psychological profile of these type of people. The shunned teenager who guns down dozens of people in a movie theater is really no different than the Muslim teenager who blows people up on a Boston street.

My point is that giving in to the fear and hatred may possibly make more people feel more isolated and desperate. I am not saying that we should have no standards on immigration, or that we should have no criteria for those who wish to come here. Not at all. Every nation has to have an immigration policy that makes sense given its economic base, its culture, and its social nature. What I’m saying is that excluding people because of their color, religion, or country of origin may not serve the purpose we think.

As Americans we stand for certain principles and ideals. We stand as a light to the rest of the world shining on the ideal that all of us are created equal and that all of us should have an equal opportunity for a good life. We stand as a light that shines on the ideal that we are stronger together than separate. We stand as a light that has shown that we are there to help those who are downtrodden and desperate for hope. Our great strength as a democracy has always been that the majority protect the rights of the minority. We have always held out a light to guide those who can find hope nowhere else.

I am afraid. But I am not afraid of the terrorists. I am afraid that we may be losing what we stand for as America. I am afraid that we may be losing our soul and that our light may be dimming. What kind of a world would there be without the light of freedom and opportunity shining from America?