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Responsibility to Defy Extremism and Terrorism

If you have ever watched the failure of law and order in public, after a while, you will see a frequent pattern. When enough lawbreakers are allowed to break the law with impunity, after awhile, people question whether the law is enforceable and whether the law even makes sense anymore. The social challenge to authority not only applies to law and order, but also to any other out-of-touch and inattentive representative government, institution, or media. Those in denial or disinterest may choose to ignore or misdirect on public concerns to avoid conflict or avoid public pressure. But often times, the more you avoid dealing with social problems, the bigger they become, until you start to lose control of the situation.

“Whatever will be, will be” is a pleasant song, and nice philosophy for conflict avoidance. But when it comes to public safety, such avoidance and denial is a strategy for disaster. The other challenge with the failure to act on public safety is that when public governments, institutions, and media are associated with such failure to act and failure to inform, inevitably they are held accountable by the public.

In societies, the greatest damage that terrorist acts and terrorist movement accomplish is the damage to TRUST. We mourn the loss of all life and all property damage, but a tear in the public’s trust continues after the mourning of lost lives, after funerals, after buildings are torn down, and even after they are built back up. Time may heal many wounds, and the public has an infinite capacity for forgiveness. But despite the confidence of many public and media leaders to the contrary, the public does not really FORGET everything. Each crack in the trust within a society undermines in the infrastructure of social cohesion. When the fissures in societal trust become wide enough, frustrated people not only start to question the efficacy of the law, but also the institutions and governments that represent them.

Those leaders, government, institutions, and media, who choose to go down a path of jeopardizing the public’s safety and recklessly showing contempt for the necessary bonds of trust between the public and its representatives, endanger not only themselves, but also democracy itself. The path of reckless disregard and contempt for public safety, with leaders openly telling its public that they need to “accept” periodic terrorist attacks as a “new normal,” is a risky and dangerous path for all. R.E.A.L. urges those who believe that they can maneuver such treacherous ethical chasms to think long and hard about the long-term consequences of such comments to the public. Furthermore, those in authority who would abuse such public trust and willfully allow the public to be endangered must realize that the authority given by the public can always be taken back. A cohesive society does not want its public wondering if it can trust those responsible for its safety, and responsible individuals in authority do not want to drive desperate and frustrated people to have to find ways to defend themselves.

At the same time, as the insane killers of the ISIS terrorist movement are working to normalize genocide and every form of crimes against humanity imaginable, we certainly need leadership that respect and listens to its public, their concerns, and makes their public safety its first and most important priority. Both in America and around the world, when faced with the scourge of extremists and terrorists, the public needs to have confidence and trust that its leaders will do everything possible to protect them.

For the United States of America, with the ISIS terrorist movement currently in every state, a growing rise of terrorist supporters from numerous extremist paths, and growing number of deadly terrorist attacks, certainly there needs to be more attention and more concern given to this threat to public safety.

However, the change we really need will not come from our government leaders, our institutions, or our media. Certainly, we can and we must expect them to their jobs and to protect the public and work to undermine such threats against our shared human rights.

But let us not forget, these handful of authorities, governments, institutions, and media, are nothing compared to the power of the people themselves. They may be our representatives, but the true responsibility to set our nation and world right does not rest with them, it depends on us. In the United States of America, we did not push back the millions in the Ku Klux Klan, the public institutional scourge of white supremacy, and the terrorist evil which regularly plagued parts of our nation, exclusively due to the actions of our government, our institutions, or our media. I lived through that social upheaval myself, and I know better. Our young people who read history books written by those who seek to simplify national movements into a few pages, perhaps a few paragraphs, cannot possibly capture the power and determination of the spirit of the American people, when we are determined to stop wrong in our nation.

While we may honor the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the brave Civil Rights workers, President Kennedy, President Johnson, and others, let us not forget that the change that America needed really did not come from these great leaders. It did not come from our media, it did come from our institutions, it did not come from those who take all the credit.

No, the change in America came from the average man and woman. The change in America came from our children. The change in America came from our teachers, religious leaders, the cooks, the barbers, the cab drivers, the engineers, the janitors, the cashiers, the lawyers, the nurses, the cleaning crews, the grocery clerks, the butchers, the bakers, and everyone and everything in between.

When people talk about the great leaders who fought against white supremacy and white supremacist terrorists, I know they talk about the people who posed for the photographs. But as one who was there, I know who the real heroes of America are. The real heroes of America are the AMERICAN PEOPLE, the ones who never posed for a photograph, who never got any awards, who never got any thanks, but who did what they did in standing for justice and in defiance of hatred, violence, and terrorism — when it was dangerous to do so — for ONE REASON: it was the right thing to do – it was the AMERICAN thing to do.

People look at great photographs of that noble leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addressing a crowd of thousands and thousands of people as far as the eye can see — on JUSTICE — on defying and rejecting terrorism — and they say what a great man, and of course he was. But I see that photo, and I see the real heroes there, the thousands and thousands of average Americans who stood with him and in support of the truths that we hold self evident as one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

So when we look for the heroes that need to rescue our great nation from the dangers of extremists and threat of the terrorist scourge, we do expect our authorities and our government leaders to do their jobs. But the people who we must expect to truly protect this nation and our shared human right are not such representatives, but ourselves. The heroes that we need to help us defeat such extremism and terrorism again are the American people. We have done it before, and we will do it again.

If there are consequences for denial and inaction on terrorism, we also know who to blame. Don’t look to the White House, to Congress, to the Pentagon, or anywhere else. We need to hold them accountable for their actions, but we also need to hold ourselves accountable for what we allow our representatives to do on our behalf. If you want to look for someone to blame, you need to look in the mirror. We are better and stronger than this as a nation. We must not slip into the pattern of expecting these relative handful of representatives to lead our nation, when this is not just their country, it is every bit as much OURS. America is OUR responsibility.

To our human rights organizations, activists, and all those that care about our shared universal human rights, this is mostly a Clarion Call for YOU. The leadership in fighting the enemies of human rights cannot be left to professional politicians, soldiers, and police, who too often are focused so much on the details of their tasks or other distractions, that they lose sight of the ideas that we fighting for – and the fundamentals of equality and liberty for all.

It is time for our human rights activists to WAKE UP and realize that yes, you are in the counterterrorism movement. If the terrorist and extremist enemies of human rights can find the determination, the resources, and creativity to form a global movement, then certainly the defenders of human rights and human dignity can do the same. Most of all, this is our fight and our struggle on behalf of our fellow Americans and fellow human beings.

On September 11, 2001, when our nation’s capital was at its greatest peril, with terrorists who hijacked Flight 93 headed to destroy the White House or the Capitol, let us never forget who the HEROES were that defended America were. They were not our brave military. They were not law enforcement. They were not our president or any of our government leaders. They were not our media and their endless stream of stories about the nation. No, it was none of them. The heroes that defended our nation’s capital on September 11, 2001 on Flight 93, were the average men and women who were on that flight and who determined that they would NOT go down without a fight. They were the brave Americans who decided that they would not let the terrorists who sought to destroy this nation go without them doing everything they could, even if it meant their lives, to protect the United States of America. When the call came for them to defend their nation in its hour of need, they had but two words: “Let’s Roll.”

So it is with the next generation of American heroes in this great nation. As our terrorist threats continue to grow around this nation, as those who seek to promote extremist views go without being challenged, it is past time for the American PEOPLE to say enough is enough. Our nation, our universal human rights, our freedom, never is and never has been free. It comes at the cost of our constant vigilance, and our constant determination, as a people and as individuals to be….

…. Responsible for Equality And Liberty