… And The River Flows On

(written April 17, 2013)

Have you ever looked at a river, really looked at a river. Looked at the things that make up a river, the surface, below the surface, and what is on the bottom of a river; are all different things, but they all make up part of the river. The river always flows on. You can change its direction, you can dam it, but the river ultimately determines its own path. You can fight the river, but the river wins. The river will break through the dams and levies and go where it will. What you can do is to take care of the small piece of the river where you are … nothing more. This helps. However, the river will clean itself as well, burying all the bad, deep within the confines of the river bottom. The bad is still there on the bottom, with more coming down the river. You will never get rid of it, but you can stir up the river, bringing back the old bad and mixing it with the new.

Yesterday was an historic day for many reasons. In 1912, April 16, was the day that the world awoke to realize the Titanic had sunk with a great loss of life. April 16, 2013 was a day that people around the world mourned the loss of a loved one or friend who died in a terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon. It was a terrorist attack, this was not a robbery gone bad or a dispute between two people. Yesterday was an attack, by an attacker, on people the terrorist did not know personally. This is terrorism. Terrorism is not new in time or to this country. Ancient Rome experience terrorism. There has been an ebb and flow to terrorism in the United States. No matter the time, no matter the place, there is one reason for domestic terrorism and only one. There is one reason for foreign terrorism against the United States, and only one.

Before I go any further, I want to state that terrorist, all terrorists, are criminals. No matter their own self-justification for their actions, they are criminals. They attempt to use fear to increase their power over us. Terrorist seek only power to force their will on others. You cannot work with terrorists, but we need to work together, only then can we weaken the power terrorists have over us. Terrorism has always existed, and always will.

The power domestic terrorism has over us, exists because we refuse to work together. One side vs. the other. One side (our side, whichever side that is) must win and utterly destroy all opposition. The commentators of CNN, NBC, and others were speculating yesterday (and will probably continue to today) by saying, “of course, since domestic terrorists are always extreme-right-wing-conservatives…”, and ” this latest act of terrorism must be the work of the T.E.A. party or a veteran.” I am not here to talk politics, and I do not care what your politics is, I want you to see the futility of this mess we have created. A mess we created and blame on others. Could anyone call Bill Ayers a “right-wing-conservative?” Bill Ayers has freely admitted to terrorist acts and continues to state to this day that he did not do enough in his earlier terrorist days. What about the Weather Underground, The Black Panthers, Earth Liberation Movement, or the Animal Liberation Movement; could any of these be called right-wing. Timothy McVeigh, now there’s a right-wing terrorist (well sort of, he wasn’t a Marxists at least). These terrorist act not because they are right-wing or left-wing. They act because we do not work together. We do not work together to heal those with mental problems. They act because we do not work together to explain the importance of freedom. Freedom? Oh yes, we know what freedom is, but what does that have to do with terrorism.? I am sure I can find people who can give hours of instruction on freedom, volumes of books have been written on freedom, wars have been fought over freedom. Do you know what freedom really is? Choice. Yup, that’s it. The definition of freedom has fewer letters in it than the word freedom itself.

If you may choose between A or B, (or more options) then you have freedom in that area. However, when your choices are limited by others, or you are not allowed to choose for yourself, you are not free. A great man once said, “Freedom works every time it is tried.” Criminals use terror to get us to limit our own freedom, our own choices. Governments, from ancient Rome to modern governments, use terrorism to increase their power over us, to limit our choices. They legislate away our freedoms in the name of security.

This brings me to the one cause for foreign terrorism. Because we have been successful. We are a democratic republic, only a democratic republic attempts to give equal protection to all citizens under one law. A free, democratic republic with a capitalist economic system, because (unlike other economic systems) in a capitalist economic system each person controls their own money and property. The individual chooses what they will do with their property. We are a collection of free people who have chosen the freest political system and the freest economic system. These two systems are not perfect, but they do allow the most freedom to all citizens. Americans have used this freedom to create the most successful country to date. The United States is 4.52% of the world population, consumes 24% of the world’s natural resources, and creates 25% of the world’s production. Those who do not like the United States’ capitalist system point out that the United States uses more resources than any other country, without out mentioning the GDP. Those in favor of unlimited capitalism point to the GDP of the United States compared to the rest of the world, without mentioning the cost.

The cost is great and the results are great. No matter what you think of the American system, we are attacked by terrorist because we are successful. We produce more and have a better standard of living, our people have enjoyed (over the course of our history) unparalleled individual freedom. Today our greatest external threat comes a small group within the Islamic community. A small group that would have their religion rule every part of the lives of their people … and the people of the world, if they get a chance. This group is only the latest to target us, there have been others in the past, and there will be others in the future. There is no reason for you to remain inactive, either you agree with the American system and work to preserve it, or you disagree with the American system and work to destroy it. The choice is yours.

So, why do we have domestic terrorists? Because we refuse to find common ground and work together. Our division is used by the terrorists.

Why do we have foreign terrorists? Because the American system is successful (I did not say it is right, and I did not say it is wrong, only that it is successful).

The pursuit of power is the root of all evil, not money. If you want to know who is the person or group behind a criminal act, do not follow the money; follow who has power to gain through that criminal act.

I am not taking a side in this one way or the other. Oh, I do have an opinion, but that is mine. Here, on my column, I shun my own personal opinion as much as possible. I shun religion, politics, and money (my grandfather always said it is best to avoid these subjects in polite company). Just as with the Hunley and many other topics I have written about …

… when there is no clear-cut, scientific, black/white, right/wrong answer, I present what I can to you and leave each of you to write the last paragraph of the column. This Sunday, I am not going to publish a column. Spend some quality time with the ones you love, or maybe some quality time alone, you know what is best for you. But, while you are in that quality time this Sunday, think about this column and which side you support. What will you do? We all take sides, even the decision to “sit this one out” is indeed, taking a side. I am not asking you to go join some organization, or march around with signs. You take sides with your voice to those you come into contact with, changing the world … one mind at a time.

My prayer for you is for peace and joy.


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