Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Post I Didn't Want to Write

September the eleventh has come and gone, and I have managed to refrain from saying much until now.  At this point, I don't think it's disrespectful to discuss the very difficult issues that the anniversary of eleven years and two days ago brings about.  It may be odd, but I prefer to give a little space when I deem necessary, as opposed to bowling people over at a sensitive time.
Unfortunately, this year brought more pain and suffering, as there were attacks on US embassies in the middle east, most notably Benghazi.  This was after a trailer of a movie the Innocence of Muslims by "Sam Bacile" and promoted by Terry Jones, the Florida Quran-burning pastor (note, I'm choosing not to link any of this, as it's pretty vile, in my opinion; feel free to check Google, but I'm not going to promote them more than simply stating facts).  It has yet to be proven that the attacks were connected to the movie, or even planned attacks (as opposed to protests that were "lucky" and got out of control), but whatever the connections, the date was not a good one.  Not that there's ever a good time for attacks, but hopefully you get what I mean. 
There's no question that the movie- reprehensible as it may be- is legal in the US and is protected speech, which is part of what makes it so hard for the rest of the world to understand.  We love our free speech here, to the point where we along what many other nations would consider hate speech, and with no repercussions to boot.  We also have the freedom of religion that lets us worship, pray, and believe however we choose, and the freedom to believe in nothing at all.  What we haven't quite figured out yet- and granted, we are a relatively young nation- is how to balance these rights with the responsibility to not be jerks, and to tolerate and even embrace others' beliefs.  I've talked about this before, and I'll talk about it again, but there is no right that does not carry with it some responsibility, also. 
And this is where it gets tough.  After September eleventh, we hurt mightily as a nation and we had every right to do that.  We had the responsibility to not take that hurt and behave like a wounded beast and attack whatever was closest.  We had the responsibility to not use our hurt to fuel our hate against people who don't believe the same as us, at home and abroad.  We had the responsibility to not use superficial appearances as a reason for revenge against innocent individuals.  We abused our rights in the wake of 9-11, and we are continuing to ignore our responsibilities to the world.  These responsibilities are greater yet, due to our *massively* over-powering military force in comparison to the rest of the world. 
If we as a nation are ever not going to be at war again, we have got to start to understand the implications of our actions, and the entitlement of others to the same rights that we enjoy.  At this moment, let's stand up and act as the bigger nation that we are.  To all those nations that felt attacked by the movie, they felt that they were attacked by the whole US, as in their country a video like this never would have made the light of day, and it's very possible they reacted as though that were the case.  Let's show them the benefits of our rights, so that they might embrace the ideals behind those right and push for them inside their own country.  Let us remember to give them the benefit of the doubt.  Let us remember to be humane, and recognize the humanity in others.  Is their action excusable?  No, by no means.  Is it understandable?  Most definitely.

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