How Should We Respond To Terrorism?


by Michael McCabe

Michael McCabe Some years ago I wrote a paper, entitled “I used to know all the answers. Now, I know some of the questions.” The question that introduces this reflection is one that I never expected to ask. But it must be asked if we are to learn anything from the events of September 11th.

The automatic response is, “Hit back, hard and quick.” This is the instinct that life has taught me. It is also the instinct that life has taught me to question. Please understand, I do not say “reject” this response. I say “question” this response.

I have learned from experience that there are times when action is demanded. But there should be few times when unthinking action is appropriate.

What are the other questions that come up for me as I reflect on the subject question, “How should we respond to terrorism?”

One is, “What was the point?” “Why did more than19 potential terrorists find each other in the first place? And why did they prepare elaborately, over what appears to have been a period of years, to hijack at least four civilian airliners, overpower the crew and passengers -- and then take the lives of thousands of other persons as well as their own lives without explanation?” It seems to me that until we understand the answers to these questions, we are in danger of retaliating wildly, like a fighter with a paper bag pulled over his head.

There are those who would say, “What does it matter? Eliminate the cause. Chop out the root. The tree will wither and die.” But who can be sure? Many roots, thought long dead, have sprung back to life. Recent world history confirms this reality.

Most importantly, by responding instinctively we are at risk of becoming that which we hate -- oppressive, thoughtless, careless, self-righteous, vicious.

Another question is simply, “Who is responsible?” The question is larger than it seems. Within it is the question, “Who was not responsible?” For, there is a great hostility growing in our country toward Middle-Eastern and Islamic peoples, as well as toward others wrongly perceived as “fitting the mold”. We risk, in a rush to judgment, injuring innocents who deserve our protection. In other countries, as well as this, we must take care -- like any good surgeon -- to do as little harm as possible while removing the offending growth.

A last question worth asking is, “What do we stand for?” For Americans have always stood for liberty, justice, freedom from oppression. Will we still stand for those values as the “War on Evil” is fought?

Whether one calls it a “War on Evil”, a “holy war” or Jihad, war is never holy. War may be necessary, rarely. But it can never be holy. For to be holy is to reflect God. And there is nothing warlike about my God. The Quran describes God (“Allah”) as “Merciful and Compassionate”. The Gospel refers to God as “Love”. It is men who create war, not God. Let us pray for the gift and the grace to recognize our limitations.



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Biography




Michael McCabe is an experienced, independent attorney Mediator who is committed to helping others resolve disputes with dignity and respect. The Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory designates him "AV," the highest rating among experienced attorneys.

Providing individuals and businesses with legal counsel for more than 30 years has given Michael McCabe a special talent for helping others find practical and cost-effective solutions to legal disputes outside the courts. A veteran of more than 50 jury trials, he knows the expense, the uncertainty, and the emotional toll of court-determined outcomes. He has seen both the benefits and the risks of litigation.

From his study of organizational behavior at St. Mary's College Executive M.B.A. Program, listening skills learned at Berkeley's Graduate Theological Union, mediation skills sharpened by extensive practical experience and more than two-hundred hours of professional training, Michael McCabe has learned to help others focus on their own interests and benefits -- the things that help solutions come into view and make settlements possible.



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Website: www.mccabemediation.com

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 Zachary  ,   Pittsburgh PA  zacharyp123@hotmail.com      05/18/06 
 Responding to Terrorism 
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I agree fully with your reasoning that war is never holy and that God should not be used as a cover to kill anyone. You said that war is acceptable in some cases, I also agree with that. But what situations do you deem it necessary to go to war? For me, world war 2 is a great instance of a necessity to go to war in order to save millions of innocent people from tyrany. The war that we are engaged in now needs to be fought against the terrorist that attack innocent people in order to achieve something that could easily be worked out in a diplomatic fashion. To sit on our hands and continue to ignore attacks on our country would not only be demoralizing but dumb. To pull out of Iraq now would lead to more casualties in the future not less as we would allow another volatile country to come under control of terrorists.
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