The longer I live, the more I understand the pull of politics to define and separate people. It reaches across continents and sits heavy over generations of cultures determined to survive.
The word terrorist has always evoked a bristle in my psyche. It is a strong word, overused definitely, that depends on perspective of the one wielding it. What one considers honor or resistance or rebellion is viewed by the other as a criminal crisis to be shut down.
But what is the situation that made this terrorist before the state? Would all of us be terrorists when pushed to defend the barest standard of living in peace? I believe this is so.
From Palestine to Somalia. From Yemen to Afghanistan. Chechnya. Guatemala. And yes, the conditions in America where resources are rationed, civil rights are not extended to all, corruption is accepted, and cycles of oppression continue for cultures with no political clout or influence.
We cling to the barest of promises but mainly are distracted by our routines. We must work. Reproduce. Worship. Support the government. Then, it happens. Another black man murdered by a cop. Transgender people are removed from the military. We don’t think the state is making these decisions but we are the state and it is also us that actively does these things.
There is no real separation among humans. There is political construct only. Gender, race, sexual orientation are all meaningless. Our failure to grasp this concept and embrace it robs us of the peace we are all seeking.
And if I am not at peace because of your political choice to dominate, I have the choice to be a victim and tolerate it (nice polite citizen) or choose another way.
The extremes of poverty and abuse, destroyed infrastructure, lack of education and opportunity will coax the most obedient to turn survivalist. The American prison system and the crumbling ghettos show this definitely.
I have trouble not feeling empathy for all people bound by constructs that hurt them. War being the most obvious jail of the heart. Any violence. It can be physical but the weapons of withholding medicine even here is a grave violence against people.
If you can take it, then maybe you take it until you have nothing left for them to take except your life. The defiance of a suicide bomber to not even allow another to take that is something very hard for many to understand but it is a fiercely rebellious act.
Never have I gone to bed and prayed for selective peace. Always, I have prayed for collective worldwide peace for all people, and especially for those society might consider unworthy of it.
My praying is desperate hope when I am the most scared. It doesn’t change anything on Earth. It just helps me release to sleep when the helplessness overcomes me. What is most proactive, however, is learning about circumstances of oppression and why it leads to our notion of terrorism. It causes me to consider that both dictator and victim become the evil in the pressure cooker fighting for life and resources.
Who gets to decide? Politics. A few people. We do it to save the skin we’re in. When we do it, put the cage (or wall up) to keep the other out, we are also keeping ourselves confined. No one wins. Just a few who convinced us it is our best interest to fight each other.
I can’t feel peace under the intense suffering in this world. It pierces me with it’s burning but I feel worse when I am not paying attention to the stories that are real. I try to listen as if the story is mine. It’s so easy to dismiss the experience of another or make my own story the central narrative for the entire world. I don’t think it’s helpful or respectful. After all, the main character of Earth is human.