Are You (Average American Citizen) A Terrorist?

            I think one of the major problems with American culture today is our tendency to look at everyone as equals in regards to doing right and wrong. Criminals are seen as ordinary citizens, and ordinary citizens are accused of being criminals.  One of the best manifestations of this wrong-headed attitude is the way propagandists talk about international Islamic terrorism.  We are told to believe that suicide bombers who blow up children are merely “freedom fighters” like George Washington was, whereas the middle-class SUV owner who uses up to 10 gallons of gas a day is directly financing terrorism.  Those people who say these things would have us believe that the one is just as culpable as the other.  Clear thinkers, however, immediately realize the problem with these types of comparisons.  One of them is a deliberate act to kill people, while the other is the distant, theoretical result of an innocent decision to drive to the store to pick up some milk for supper.

            That said, I’m now going to make the outrageous claim that you (average American citizen) are a terrorist.  I don’t mean that you’re personally guilty of blowing up buildings, or that you would ever want to, but that you have the same tendencies that lead to immoral violence, even if these tendencies have been softened by your circumstances or some of the better choices you’ve made in life.  Let’s consider what a terrorist is.  In chapter One of the September 11th Epic Poem (see below) I define a terrorist as someone who is hateful, ungrateful, egotistical, and hopeless. People become terrorists often do so because they are looking for away to resist the feeling that their life is meaningless. They want to believe that they’re inherently better than everyone else, and that they have an important job to do. Of course their conscience tells them that its wrong to kill and torture others, but when an imam or friend tell them the opposite—that murder is their religious duty—they happily ignore their misgivings in order to chase a seductive dream of personal superiority.  How is this any different than what the rest of us do? We may have a decent home and a pretty wife, but somehow we believe its OK to cheat on her because we’re somehow better than her.  Or perhaps we lie to our boss at work because we think he’s “too stupid” to understand what it’s like to be a “common laborer.”  What makes us do this? It’s the same spirit of superiority that causes terrorists to blow up buildings. Sure, its not as “extreme,” but the source is the same: selfish pride.  

We don’t know why they chose to die; 
            But in some sense we do.
We all have sinned when reason thinned;
            We’re all insurgents too.
We all have hate; we’re all ingrate,
            With egos out our ears;
When hope’s renounced, our love gets trounced,
            By pressure from our peers.

 

(Excerpt from Chapter One of the September 11th Epic Poem)

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