Gandhi, Dr. King, Lincoln, Bhutto, Mandela, Malala. These names blaze as beacons of courage, enlightenment, hope, social justice, integrity and resolve. Each exposed and confronted injustice at great personal expense, never skulking in the shadows, never cowering from threats, never mistaking violence for courage and always recognizing hatred for the gross extension of ignorance that it is.
I think of these names, not in the face of the mockery of leadership that is potentially Trump or Clinton, but as a staggering counterpoint to the cowards behind Charlie Hebdo, the attacks in Lebanon, Paris, Mali, a host of others, and now Munich and Nice. I think of these names to magnify the difference between true emissaries of lasting change and awareness, and ignorant brutal thugs. I think of them to underscore the expansive chasm that exists between courage and cowardice, between a true cause and mindless chaos.
We call them terrorists, which adds a perverse sense of legitimacy to their actions. We should stop that. We need to label them for what they are – cowards.
We sensationalize their actions in 24 x 7 news cycles, which also adds a perverse sense of legitimacy to their actions. We should stop that too.
Yes, report their acts of ignorance. Expose the facts. But lose the mega-font “TERROR IN….” backdrop and the frenetic 24×7 blather. Then diffuse their twisted fundamentalist rhetoric by accentuating the truth that their only voice or “cause” is, once again, mindless and spineless brutality against unarmed and unsuspecting, women, men and children – of all colors and creeds.
Our world is blessed with prolific acts of courage, sacrifice, support, community, love, inclusion and commitment. Let’s laud the courageous. Let’s highlight and nurture acts of acceptance, creativity, kindness and unity.
Let’s fan the flames of hope rather than drive up the ratings and radicals that feast on fear.