I dont have it in me to be a patriot. I hate that the U.S. is bombing Afghanistan (though I do not question its necessity), I am relieved I am too old for the draft (barely), and I didnt laugh at the following e-mail joke:
A Canadian, Osama Bin Laden, and Uncle Sam were in the desert and found a lamp. All three rubbed it simultaneously and a genie appeared. It said, Since you are all my masters, I will grant each of you one wish. The Canadian thought about this briefly and replied, Im a farmer, my father is a farmer, and my son will be a farmer. I want you to fill the land of Canada with the worlds best soil for farming. The Genie nodded once, snapped his fingers, and said, Your wish is granted. The Canadian immediately called his dad on his cellular phone and related his fathers amazement at the fertile land blessed upon his country.
Bin Laden, amazed by this, quickly gave his wish. I want a wall, a thousand feet high and impenetrable. I want it to follow the borders of Afghanistan and allow no believer to leave and no infidel to enter. I want the wall to be air-tight and as thick as the faith I have in Allah. The Genie nodded once, snapped his fingers, and said, Your wish is granted.
Uncle Sam -- ever the pragmatist -- asked, You sure nothing can leak out of that thing? The Genie nodded. Uncle Sam shrugged and said, Fill it with water.
Genocide is just so passé to me. It was worn out with Adolf Hitler and Slobodan Milosevic, you know?
Sarcasm aside, is it possible to defend ones way of life -- as well as ones life in general -- without resorting to various verbal terrorist acts?
The response is -- of course -- How dare I?. How can I sit here and place such country-killing jokes as the one above on the same level with what happened on September 11th?
Simple. This is a war of ideas. It is a war of fear and of concepts. The damage to the World Trade Center, to the Pentagon, and to the countless lives lost or affected by the attacks is incalculable. However, the damage to our hearts and to our minds, to our emotions and to our souls is so much more.
And -- the damage done -- we lash out with our minds. We strike with thoughts in the forms of words.
Words are simple vessels of our soul. Every word we as human beings utter carries our very essence. It is our one opportunity to reach out past our isolation and into the isolation of someone else.
That reaching out can be both beautiful or barbaric, enlightening or deadly. Sticks and stones mean nothing in the bigger sense of things. Its the words that will get you.
Speech police? No. Asking for some sort of barrier against crass humor that helps alleviate country-wide sorrow? No again. Instead, I simply request the use of the "delete" key. Use it on such hate-filled e-mail and stop flinging those slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune around the globe at the speed of thought. Just think about the words that you may e-mail as a bullet to the thousands -- maybe millions -- of faceless strangers who might see the murderous intent of the words. In other words, see the senders of such attacks as comparable to the faceless cowards who attack innocents with results of mass death and pain.
And understand that no terrorist becomes what he or she is because of violence. Millions of people are subject to that every day. A terrorist is one who believes that violence is more powerful than the ideas which he or she tries to promote through evil acts. The parallel here is that the violence is not the key. It is the malicious thought behind the violence that grows as a cancer and embeds itself in the minds of the weak.
This is not a call to go after those who find anti-terrorist humor even the slightest bit funny. Only a small plea to ignore the hate and try instead to focus on defending what is ours by promoting a way of life. Dont be a word terrorist. Use words instead to heal and put this world together again.
One who follows such a code might be called unpatriotic. But that title is far better than the title of terrorist.