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Alternative Culture Articles

September 16, 2001

How Will We Choose to Behave?
By Royce Carlson

The world news is filled with only one story – the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. What are the implications? Who did it? How will the world respond? How will the United States respond? What will come of this? I wanted to write an article about something else for this week, but this story fills my mind, whether I want it to or not. So, here’s my voice added to the thousands of others reacting to this horrible turn of events.

The mainstream U.S. media has been filled with commentary about how we were attacked because of our goodness and because we support freedom and democracy. The mainstream commentary is filled, too, with saber rattling and revenge. Even before we know for sure who is responsible, there is talk of leveling entire countries in response to these attacks. Is this also because we are good?

Did the terrorists attack the U.S. because they are Muslims who hate Christians? Of course not. Does the U.S. consider it’s own military efforts as killing for Jesus? No, again. It is political, not religious. But it should be religious. If either side of this conflict actually acted according to their professed beliefs, this tragedy would not have happened. Both Islam and Christianity demand tolerance. Both religions teach us to elevate love over anger and peace over violence.

Violence leads to violence. We face this unlearned lesson every time someone raises a weapon against another. Will we learn the lesson this time? It is only human to be angry when we are attacked. It is a natural part of the human experience to have thoughts of revenge. It is also in us to go beyond revenge and act with compassion.

We, in the U.S. and the rest of the world, have a choice. We can become the evil that we seek to destroy – or we can be better than that. We can ignore the teachings of our spiritual faith and kill thousands of fellow human beings – or we can be better than that.

Let’s be better.


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Royce Carlson