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A prayer for peace, 2001/09/14:15:06

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I've heard many people exclaim that we must "teach the terrorists a lesson." However, it seems clear to me that bin Laden (on that assumption) intended to teach _us_ a lesson about the consequences of our involvement in the Middle East. And look what that makes us want to do? Is there any reason to believe that our "lesson" will not simply excite rage and blood lust in the radical Islam world, just as bin Laden's lesson has excited rage and blood lust in us?

Psychology is general. People in mysterious lands also are aggrieved when their friends and families are murdered, when their security is shattered. Strange people with inscrutable customs burn too with the flame of vindication when bombs rain about their heads. None are broken by the fierce expression of the enemy's rage. All demand the enemy's head. Americans are not exceptional in this. Psychology is general.

I have heard newscasters proclaim, without irony, that it is impossible to fathom the minds of our attackers, so twisted are they. It is not impossible. It is easy. The eager American boys with inflamed hearts, rushing the recruiting stations, ready to die for their tribe--these we can understand. But then we can understand our enemies too.

It may be that our technology and wealth may overwhelm and break the enemy. But the enemy is diffuse. Our technology and wealth has not broken the "enemy" in the drug war. I pray, against the current of history, that the lasting casualty of this war will not be the liberties we aim to preserve. I pray, on this day of prayer, that our lust for war does not end by breaking us.
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