For the first time since World War II, at the close of a long night of terrorist attacks on Nov. 13, France found itself under mandatory curfew. Since the announcement that France would treat this as an “act of war,” over 150 counter-terrorism raids have taken place. A manhunt is raging, not to mention the bombing of the capital of ISIS in Syria.
The events that have transpired in France are a stark reminder of the violent and challenging world we live in. We mourn the loss of life of our brothers and sisters from acts of terrorism and condemn the violence that caused that loss of life.
We should be clear about where this problem of rapidly metastasizing terrorism comes from. Our problem has consistently been us – nations with power and influence. Instead of using diplomatic means to solve crises, we have turned to military strategies that have lead us farther and farther down the wrong path. Even our president has admitted that using the military to solve this problem seems futile. So killing and maiming many innocent civilians in pursuit of terrorists will likely make things worse, not better. Sadly, the very people we’ll be bombing in Syria and elsewhere hold the key to the solution. It will take the work of the citizens of this region to make their situations better. Anything else will lead to more displacement.
We should also remember that what happened in Paris on that Friday night happens with regularity in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan. These countries experience similar tragedies yet don’t receive the goodwill bestowed upon the French. Most days they are ignored. While it doesn’t diminish the horror and sadness that we should all feel at what Parisians have experienced, it certainly makes you wonder where we draw the line when it comes to human suffering. Are Iraqis, Syrians, Yemenis, Afghans or Lebanese somehow less deserving? We should view a loss of life anywhere just as deserving of international solidarity and support. Anything less is hypocrisy.
[Full text of letter was printed for the Nov. 22 Sunday vigil leaflet and can be read at http://newhavensundayvigil.wordpress.com.]