This past week we have all been shocked and saddened by what has happened in The United States. In short, we have been terrorized. Terrorism is defined as being the use or threat of violence to create a climate of fear in a given population. There is nothing new about terrorism. Incidents have been recorded from as early as the first century...interestingly enough in Palestine.
Terrorism has many faces and speaks with many tongues. The heart of the terrorist burns with accumulated hatred, fear, hurt and, sometimes, envy. Most terrorists belong to organizations which are relatively small compared to their targets. Were they not, we would be speaking of "war" since most targets are nations and their governments.
Even in war the so called rules of war are sometimes put aside in order to indulge in a little terrorism. Over the centuries we have seen terrorism alternately acclaimed and condemned according to who was making the judgement and writing the history.
On the night of February 13th, 1945, less than 3 months before the end of the war, with victory assured, a combined British and American force which, during the next twelve hours, grew to be over one thousand heavy bombers, set out to destroy the East German city of Dresden. Dresden, the capital city of Saxony and situated on the Elbe River, was particularly known for its splendid architecture and fine china. On that fateful night, the eve of Ash Wednesday, Dresden was overflowing with civilian refugees fleeing the final advance of the Russian Armies. The city, which was practically defenceless, took over four thousand tons of bombs most of which were incendiary. The resulting cyclonic firestorm reduced half the city and its population to liquid and ash. Estimates to-day still range from 50 to more than 100 thousand dead.
An influential Associated Press war Correspondent labelled the raid an act of terrorism. Air Chief Marshall Harris, better known as "Bomber Harris," felt no remorse over the fact that the target was entirely civilian in nature. He is quoted as having said: "All together, THEY are not worth the bones of one British Grenadier!"
A statue in his honor was erected in 1992 in London. Apparently he is a national hero.
I relate this story only to add a little balance to the scene of people dancing in the streets in the Middle East this past week. It looks like some day there could be yet another statue erected in another city...let's hope not!
Bomber Harris had every reason to hate the Third Reich and all it stood for. There is no mystery there. But why this overwhelming hatred expressed by Islamic fundamentalists for everything American? I think history will reveal the answer to anyone who studies it without preconceptions. But there is NO EXCUSE to be found in any history book for what took place on February 13th, 1945 and September 11th, 2001.
Where do we go from here? No doubt that if certain individuals can be identified as having been directly or indirectly responsible for what happened on Monday, they must be brought to justice. But apart from that, I believe that a careful reading of the Gospels would suggest at least a partial gathering of Arab leaders who will be asked to candidly identify the root causes of the high degree of hatred felt toward America and her allies and that these factors as well as any perceived ongoing injustices be publicly addressed by the government and people of the United States and all others concerned in an open and tangible manner regardless of peripheral political ramifications.
Perhaps showing good will, a respect for life, peaceful intent and a sincere desire to rectify any injustice will bring about the all-important, irreplaceable HEALING process which finds encouragement in our sacred texts as in The Koran.
"Please Father, send forth your Spirit that there be no more Dresdens, no more September madness...This we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.