We're fighting a war on terror. No, that's "A War on Terror." Capitals. It is truly a momentous time, and a genuine war, and there's no mistake: there have been and there will be casualties of all kinds. That is a given. Many will die of it, many more will be scarred by it, and many more will suffer the losses of those deaths and scarrings. It's an ugly picture.
Sometimes our measures against terrorists are presented as if they can prevent all this impact of the war. We should know better. Nothing will prevent this war from harming us in some way or another. No matter how good our defenses are, no matter how harshly we screen and block and investigate and arrest, someone will slip through and hurt us.
People in other countries know this truth all too well. Look at Israel. Look at Ireland. Look into any continent on the planet, and you'll find out that when a terrorist wants to damage people and their culture, he or she will find a way. No place is ever completely safe.
But somehow the Israelis and the Irish and the others keep on going. They don't just give up and cave in and do what the terrorists want. They stand up, take their staggering losses, and keep their world running. To stand firm is to survive another day. To surrender is to begin to die faster.
Dealing with terrorism is a lot like dealing with cancer. Some die, some are hurt, and many suffer. We can't stop cancer, but we don't surrender to it either. We carry on, living our lives as long and as nobly as we can. I believe that we should apply this same mindset when we confront terrorism. It's all about courage.
Courage: to accept the fact that death comes unwanted and unbidden, but it comes anyway. To accept the fact that wounds mark only the body and not the soul. To accept the fact that suffering and grieving are a natural part of our lives, and must be endured, even embraced. Terrorism or not, all these things come to us. Somehow we muster the courage to face them, and then we move on.
When we remember our courage, we don't need to hide. We don't need to arm everyone. We don't need to spy on our neighbors. We don't need to be distracted and manipulated by every shudder of fear that ripples through our society. We grow. We come to greater life, and we find our strength.
When we find our strength, nothing that terrorism can do will stop us. Terrorism is the last scream of rage in utter defeat. Terrorism wins nothing. Some day, the enemies we confront in this war today will be buried in the sands of the forgotten, and we will have moved on, into a world slowly blooming with new hopes. Let's remember our courage, and take the next step toward that future.