Independence. Freedom. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Do we even fully understand the concept and the gift we have received from both our forefathers and the men and women of our armed forces who continue to fight for that right?
We are not the only free country. We are one of the biggest and the beacon for others to follow, but we are not the only one that is free.
Nor are we the best free country. Some suggest we are the best country in the world.
When I travel to other parts of the world and encounter freedoms there, I wonder at the assumption some make in America that ours is the best kind of freedom, the only kind of freedom for which fighting is worthwhile.
And there are those fighting against our freedom. They want to snatch it away from any society that practices freedom, independence, autonomy from dictatorships. These powers want to invalidate the security of anyone living a life of freedom. Terror seeks to destroy any vestige of calm and peace one might find in the home sweet home of the United States of America or any other free country.
On this Fourth of July weekend, we are assaulted by images in the media, of terror run rampant in other parts of the world. Places where we presume freedom does not exist. Places where fear and insecurity are the norm. It is in these places that we accept that this is part of daily life. But here, in America, we are not accustomed yet to the idea of a cafe being shot up by a gunman. We have not yet witnessed hostages in an every day life setting. Aside from the San Bernardino and Orlando shootings that occurred within the last year. And for those, we have a base understanding that those were different somehow. The men who directed those acts were a bit mentally unstable, after all. So, it’s different, right? Or is it?
On The Kelly File- a show that runs each night on the Fox Network, two nights ago Megyn Kelly facilitated a town hall like gathering of people, including some of the victims of the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. These folks were gathered to discuss terror in general as well as their own personal experiences with terror. When I tuned in, they were in the midst of discussing the recent Ataturk Airport Terrorist Act in Istanbul that claimed over 40 lives; it happened less than a week ago. There was an intense caution that we were now a country on alert as the director of the CIA issued warnings about the risk of an attack now on the homeland. This threat to America is evolving. Megyn cuts over to Trace Gallagher, a FOX News Correspondent- to hear a latest report on an audio recording that had been uncovered from ISIS which called on attacks on the West during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began in early June and ends July 5th.
With the recent spate of violence and especially those done in allegiance to ISIS, one has to wonder if there will be targets in the U.S. over the 4th of July holiday weekend.
The truth is that there have been so many terroristic incidents in our country already. But just like the school shootings, our society has an ability to rebound and keep moving forward. We carry a resilience that helps us forget too soon – the violence. Until another crops up and another speech from the president reminds us that once again, violence has rung out, Iives have been lost, hope is faltering.
Perhaps the issue is two and maybe even three fold. 1) Fear. 2) Concern over political correctness- and intent on not profiling, of not breeding hatred, of having a positive attitude and 3) a lack of understanding on the part of the west of the cultural and depth (thousands of years of history) of the hatred which exists within a population that is attracted to and becomes sucked into the threat itself: muslim extremism.
How can the West even begin to consider a remedy to a situation for which they do not have a proper historical context or depth of understanding – of what it at the root, what has bred this hatred in the first place.
I once sat in on a discussion regarding the overwhelming history of a people that goes back to biblical times- these tribes that hated each other from the very beginning. Sunni. Shiite. History is unclear to me- and I recognize that in order to have even an inkling of what is going on in this world of ours, I must learn all I can. How else will I have any proper insight into participating in the legal and political system as an informed citizen? Most people, I believe, vote based on popularity. It’s like a reality TV show- not a life and death consequence and responsibility.
These tribes have hated one another for centuries, and they continue to hate each other now.
While I listen to the news and have paid attention for years, I still do not have a proper understanding of the basis of the rage and hatred and the perspective of this population that wants the west eradicated. They want to infiltrate and bring down the west.
The idea of not profiling a population that wants to bring something called Sharia Law into the west and overtake the west with their way of life. Most people that I interact with have not paid any attention to the language that surrounds the conflict in the Middle East. Words like “Sharia Law” or “Caliphate”. They don’t mean much to most people, because most people have not been paying attention. Buried heads in the sand. Look the other way. Ignore. Think about other things. Focus on happy thoughts.
“I have stopped watching the news” I hear from one friend. “It’s too depressing”.
It’s as if they are saying: if I ignore all of this, maybe it will just go away. And if it doesn’t go away, well… I can’t do anything about it anyway, so what’s the use.
Back to the Kelly File, I hear one man in the audience suggest that the perpetrator of the Orlando Pulse Nightclub Shoot-up was a misogynistic man who also hated gay people. Megan cuts in and asks: but is that not the characteristic of most terrorists: women hating, gay hating, western society hating men who are intent on destroying anyone who is not the same as them; are they not all mentally unstable? (my words not hers but the general idea of her thread).
Another woman in the audience gets angry and suggests that the man in the back row has hijacked the conversation, has redirected the conversation from terrorism to domestic violence; the man has belittled the issue of terrorism and coined it domestic violence and in so doing, has made the issue smaller than it is.
As an audience member on her couch, I wonder. What can be done? Anything? Are we to simply watch our world unravel and witness the destruction of civilization?
Freedom. It’s worth fighting for, at the very least, it’s worth paying attention to the signs of it’s destruction around the world. It’s vital to not ignore the mortal wounds to independence. Whether our country’s or any western country’s grasp of it.
If you are diagnosed with an early stage cancer, do you ignore it and hope it will go away? Or, do you do everything in your power to eradicate it before it metastasizes? The word metastasis has already been used in the news to describe ISIS and the cells which have spread throughout the world. Is it too late? Has the cancer grown beyond the possibility of a cure. Is there no hope of remission?
Independence Day. I hope for a day when we can once again fly our flag with confidence in freedom, security, peace and happiness- a happiness that is not overshadowed by fear