The price of terrorism

The Canon Rector’s Message

Frankly, I am not capable of relating to the sort of thinking that sees an act of terrorism as a means of making a statement to the world. Whether it is blowing up the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center or blowing up those who had just completed running the Boston Marathon, I find it difficult to relate.

These events challenge my capacity to juggle my human reaction to do unto others as they have done; these events challenge my capacity to follow the vision of our Lord’s new commandment that we love one another.

I am like the rest of the human race in that regard. During the war in Vietnam, I did not seek to become a conscientous objector to the war, for a very simple reason; I knew this about myself: if someone was shooting at me, I would not be wringing my hands, agonizing “whatever ought I to do?”. Those high ideals of our Lord are sometimes more easily said than done.

We may have promised to respect the dignity of every human being, but it is especially difficult to respect another’s humanity when that person is disrespecting yours.

While we may do well to condemn the Tsnarev brothers’ actions–and while we may think of what their actions caused the people of Boston, and what they cost the families of those killed and otherwise harmed– there is a way in which their act of inhumanity costs us all. It cost us even if we have no particular connection to Boston.

If in no other way, it costs us in this regard: the world is a little less safer place. What happened there could just as likely happen closer to home. Is it an appropriate assumption that we are safe when we are in crowded, public spaces? Terrorism, you see, is not only an act of cowardice. It is an act that diminishes our collective, common humanity. The Tsnarevs and their ilk are not heroes in a cause. They are thieves and assassins who steal the spirit of the common good, and kill the spirit that binds us into community.

So, it is appropriate that we lament what has happened to the people of Boston but, lest we forget, we should lament the way in which acts of terror impact us all. Terrorism diminishes our capacity for being human.

Of course, you and I must certainly know that acts of terrorism done by others do not exculpate us from the lofty call to make better choices than they. There is great truth in our Lord’s call to love, if for no other reason that violence only begets violence. Hate only breeds hate. There’s only one way to break the cycle of violence. That is to learn to choose the higher way.


Canon Greg+


About canongreg

I have been Rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Wellsboro, PA since 1994.
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