GUEST OPINION - Rising above the terror

Thursday, September 20, 2001

Don't play into the hands of terrorists by being one.

Americans are angry - we want revenge. Here are samples of what we are saying and hearing. "Wipe the bastards out," was a recent

suggestion of a member of Congress. His listeners responded by a roaring vote of approval. "Hit 'em and hit 'em hard" are words of a chorus heard from coast to coast.

Our president promises we will give the terrorists and their harboring nations their dues.

We agree this should be done in light of the feared possibility of 10,000 dead in the twin towers,

Pentagon and four jet flights carrying innocent peaceful Americans. Body parts left strewn around scenes of destruction indicate the price families and our nation paid on September 11, 2001. Many angry Americans are charging this bill to our unwise opening of borders to immigrants, they add, "We've had it: it's time to close our doors."

Our recent, "terrible Tuesday" has won new recruits for America's anti-immigration group. Muslim terrorists have explained their reason for coming to America and subsequent acts of terrorism was to deliver the punishment of "Allah" (God) on our nation for our demonstration of Godless secularism. We know we are an immigrant nation. Every family's roots go back in their beginnings to some other part of the earth. Most of us have lived here long enough to "pay our dues." The recent announcement of the New York mayor's request for 9,000 body bags has united Americans in a call for vengeance.

"Now-now-now" is the chant for a military action. If a national petition was distributed at this time it would be signed by most Americans. We have never been so united. Our worrisome disunity of recent years has been replaced in a single day by tragic events in New York City, Washington and on a lonely field in Pennsylvania!

What are we waiting for? Vengeance is our cry. Our Defense Department explains to an impatient nation, it takes time for them to get everything ready for a successful world stunning final answer which will wipe terrorism from the face of the earth.

Two problems impede our efforts. Ideas cannot be wiped off of the face of the earth. Bad ideas are often best survivors. Clothed in hate and anger, they are passed from one generation to the next. The Bible gives its readers a story Jesus told 2,000 years ago. It is about a Samaritan who did a good deed for a Jew. The scripture is careful to point our Samaritans and Jews have no relationship with one another; only hate for each other. We are not involved in a new quarrel today. We are struggling to put out the flames of an ancient one.

The second problem involves our call for revenge. It should remind us to review a lesson humanity has never learned. Vengeance has no final chapter. It depends on who or what cause is "up to bat" any given moment in history. We are convinced today it is our turn. The next inning it will be their turn again. Vengeance is never final, it never forgets and it usually grows when repeated. Like our struggle to wipe out forest fires in the west, sparks remain to flare again. The Bible quotes earth's creator as saying "Vengeance is mine, I will do the repaying." He alone has the ability to write its final chapter. He has love, justice and wisdom to bring to the assignment.

Disturbing reports are being heard daily; a mosque in Texas burned, anti-Muslim demonstrations in Jersey, Muslim students on our campuses threatened and assaulted. We are angry and rightfully so. Why wait for our armed forces to gear up for the "wipe 'em out" answer? Can we hold our anger long enough to let reason speak to us? Its message is, "Don't play into the hands of the terrorist by acting like one of them." Our nation has been wounded, patience and disciplined waiting are hard to come by when our families have been crushed by terrorists' barbarous inhumanity. We need to listen to David in the 46th Psalm. He reports, "God is our refuge and our strength in time of trouble." This is the time for his direction and strengthening power in our nation's life.

God Bless.

Clarence C. Richardson is a retired Storm Lake pastor and a frequent contributor to the Pilot-Tribune.