As I listened to the news yesterday, and interviews with the terrorists’ family, I could only hurt for them. This is not the way they wanted their children to grow, in fact this was not what they knew of their children and they were in a world of denial. I could relate. As a parent, my children have chosen paths for themselves that shocked and grieved me. Fortunately they were not decisions that were irretrievably harmful and couldn’t be corrected, however serious they appeared at the time
We all have free will and make good and bad choices and I couldn’t help but wish that this young terrorist will live to see the error of his bad choices and get in touch with the gravity of his horrific acts. But I don’t wish him death, but instead wish him remorse for what he has done.
Years ago my youngest daughter gave me a book for Christmas that was about the first home-grown terrorist cell group in the United States. It was so interesting to read about how these were young boys, no different from any others, except that they all came under the influence of a leader who enticed them to seek their exceptionalism and Muslim pride in ways that were extreme.
All of these young men found themselves going to Afghanistan to train under Osama Bin Laden, and were very innocent of the gravity of their decisions. To them it was nothing more than an exciting adventure and finding pride in what they thought was appropriate for their religion. They were shocked by what they found and one even told Bin Laden that in the US, no matter how poor they were, they didn’t live like anyone that he saw in this terrorist camp. He was glad to get back home and put this experience behind him.
One stayed on and became a true and hardened terrorist, the others returned home in a state of great confusion. Their experience wasn’t so easily put behind them, and though they didn’t act with their training, their betrayal of their country got out and they all ended up paying a heavy price for their naïveté.
I remember too well, the days of my youth and my own struggle to find myself. I too was sheltered enough to think I wanted something beyond what my parents designed for my life. I rebelled, and did things that I am not proud of. I never became a terrorist, but I made bad decisions, that fortunately for me were not life altering, except that they showed me the error of my ways.
I, in no way condone placing a bomb at the feet of an eight year old boy and annihilating him, and others and maiming so many! But I have strong thoughts that neither can we allow ourselves to be caught up in the hatred that is besetting our country today. Our Judeo-Christian beliefs that are interwoven into the fabric of our nation cannot be shaken by these acts of terror. I am reading Killing Lincoln and am so impressed with President Lincoln and his desire to bind up the wounds and division in this country, and return our land to a land of freedom and respect for all.
In the days ahead, I believe that we Americans are called to bind up the wounds that have just been inflicted and we are called to love, not just the innocent victims of this horrible event, but embrace the family that “lost” their sons. We need to pray that each of us will be careful of the youth of this country, and during this stressful economic time, reach out to those in need and do what we can do to be sure that our young people are loved and respected for their attempts to take the difficult paths ahead of them to succeed as students and young future leaders of our country. How easy it is for our young people to feel unrewarded for their sacrifices to get an education only to find less opportunity than what we had as young people.
Character needs to be taught. Rewards are not just monetary but rather about the pride taken in doing the difficult. Kindness and decency need to be taught and when all else fail, use words. It is too easy to curse the darkness versus taking a light into that darkness. I hope that in the days ahead, we will all take seriously the challenge to replace division and hatred with unity and love.