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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Monday, September 25, 2023

Experiencing and rejecting hatred

I am writing this column at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, and although much has probably happened since these words were written, I have already seen as much as I can possibly take. The mind can only wrap itself around so much agony and suffering before it shuts itself off. 




I can't conceive of the hatred it would take to commit such an act or the moral manipulations necessary to find a justification for killing what will probably be thousands of innocent civilians. It takes an evil beyond imagination to strike at innocent people with such audacity. It involves a hatred so strong there can be no adequate emotional response. 




Unfortunately, it is also a hatred that is spreading, and it has spread into my mind. I feel the hatred growing there like a slow disease, urging me to hate, to ask for immediate vengeance, to accuse, to try and to convict without evidence. Invade Afghanistan, fully support Israeli control of Palestine, sanction Iran. These desires have all crossed my mind and I cannot deny that I might secretly take joy in seeing them fulfilled, even though I have no evidence to suggest any Arab or Islamic fundamentalist is responsible. 




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In the past few months I have detested every single word uttered by Ariel Sharon, prime minister of Israel. Yet, I couldn't help being drawn to his words as he came on TV announcing his support for America and his belief that this is the beginning of a great war against evil. I also want to be able to examine this tragedy from the perspective of the moral crusader who, although wounded and perhaps surprised, is nonetheless ready to strike back with a holy fury. 




I have believed for most of my adult life that human existence is much more complicated than a simple battle between right and wrong. Some may call it 'revisionist,' but I have often questioned the United States' role in global conflicts and questioned whether its actions may have been responsible for some of the tragedies that occurred in countries like Vietnam, Rwanda, Indonesia and even Afghanistan. Yet, when confronted with something so evil, so wrong, watching as Palestinian young people cheer and celebrate in the streets because the 'Great Satan' has been wounded, I cannot help feeling that America has been right all along. Perhaps the world does exist as a struggle between good and evil, between the West and all those other countries convulsed by chaos, martial law and widespread warfare. Those countries that exist only so they can hate their own people, their neighbors or the rest of the world. 




I want to destroy them. I want them to die. It is not a feeling I am proud of or a feeling that I would act upon, but I cannot deny its existence. To deny its existence would be just as wrong as embracing it. Instead, this feeling, which I am sure is gripping the entire nation, needs to be channeled, controlled and turned into effective and fair action. 




The hatred we feel'and I use the word we because I think to a certain extent everyone must hate what has occurred'is not our own production. It is the product of evil. It is the inevitable byproduct of being a victim of terror. A tiny piece of the hatred responsible for the crime is placed in the hearts of everyone affected, producing a hatred that can result in actions as evil as the original crime. More importantly, it perpetuates the evil and the conflict. It makes the cowardly terrorists who committed this offense seem more like the holy warriors they claim to be. 




Already, in an amazing scene of solidarity, U.S. congressional leaders have sung 'God Bless America' from the steps of the U.S. Capitol. The government of this country will survive, its people will recover and some response will take place. But, will it be justified? Will it be fair? Or, will it engulf the rest of the world in a conflict that will lead to more violence, more terror and more hatred? Answering this attack with cruise missiles, stealth bombers and the U. S. Marines may be necessary, but if that is not necessary, can the people of the United States restrain their hatred? Can I restrain my hatred? 




I must. Otherwise I become an agent of evil. I become a terrorist. The hatred must not overcome the moral values I hold to be true. I will not condone a strike or a military action that will result in the death of innocent civilians or terrorize the inhabitants of another country. I will not approve of any measures that take away the basic civil liberties of American citizens. Most importantly, I will not hate the Palestinians cheering in the streets or the smug representative of the Arab League who says America had it coming. 




Is this war? There is no doubt in my mind that it is. But it is a war fought on many fronts, not just between terrorists and the United States people. Our security is not fortified with metal detectors in airports or the Central Intelligence Agency, it is ensured by our virtue, wisdom and self-restraint. 




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