I have met the enemy (and it is we)


“There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. boston terror photo_by_hahatango_30107Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blast on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.” – Pogo Possum


Pogo was a cartoon strip character … an amiable, humble, philosophical, personable, everyman opossum. Pogo was “the reasonable, patient, softhearted, naive, friendly person we all think we are.” He was also the wisest (and probably sanest) resident of the cartoon swamp





The enemy … as in … ‘we the people.’


What happened at the Boston Marathon was a tragedy … a tragedy of human kind more than anything else.


A cowardly act committed by a misguided soul <or souls … yet to be determined>.




I would like to take a moment and remind everyone that on that exact same day:


          –  The Syrian Network for Human Rights said 126 people had been killed including 37 in Damascus. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitoring group, said 130 people were killed. These figures and reports cannot be verified because media access to Syria is limited.


          –  A suicide bomber in Peshawar, Pakistan killed nine people and wounded dozens more at a Pakistan election campaign rally attended by a former cabinet minister in the northwestern city of Peshawar





This event reminded me of two others.



          – 1996: The Olympics in Atlanta. Two people died and 111 were injured after pipe bombs in a rucksack exploded in the Centennial Olympic Park. Eric Rudolph, an anti-abortion extremist, was jailed for life in 2003 after pleading guilty to the bombing.



          –  2008: Marathon in Sri Lanka. A suicide bomber killed 15 people including a government minister when he targeted the start of a marathon race near Colombo in Sri Lanka. The bomb killed 15 people, including a number of runners, and injured 90 others. The Sri Lankan government claimed the militant group Tamil Tigers were responsible for the attack.



Why did I begin there?


Boston Marathon tragedy. It would not surprise me in the least if we were to find there was no foreign influence or nefarious foreign underpinnings but rather this was some wackjob misguided American<s> making some point.


That said.


The day’s events made me think several thoughts:


          –   An individual with intent to harm will harm. Especially if they are cowardly. If they hide from their actions and hide what they want to do and hide how they will do it … they will find a way to harm innocent people.  I don’t say that to lessen the event or to suggest we shouldn’t be outraged when it happens … just that it can, and inevitably will, happen. The best systems in the world will not stop, 100%, an individual with intent to harm.


          –    Events like a marathon, or any large sporting event, is staffed and are surrounded by very capable people to minimize the effect of large ‘intent to harm’ acts <I hope misguided wackos read that>. Their intent may be to destroy people … their will as well as their bodies. But in the end they will fail. The good of the capable rise to the occasion. And while devastation is … well … devastating. In the moment the doctors, the medical people, the firemen & police … step up to the plate and accept responsibility to manage the devastation and protect citizens from future & additional harm. Not every harmful act can be deterred or stopped … but they can be managed.


          –    Words. Whew. Terror, terrorism … acts of terror. Pick your poison. Who cares? This was the first news media salvo in the war on words … ‘Obama strangely avoided the use of the word “terrorism” to describe the incident in his first comments hours after the bombings, even as White House officials were quick to call it “an act of terror.” But on Tuesday morning he noted that investigators were pursuing it as an “act of terrorism.”’


While politicians make every effort to distance themselves from the politics of an event like this <initially> you can almost feel them preparing the groundwork for the moment they can shift into politicking. Their biggest weapon? Words. They wield them like little armies trying to outflank the enemy.


My words?


It was a tragedy. A tragedy of humans. It is our job, no, our responsibility, to insure it doesn’t create terror. Eliminate the terror and it is not a terrorist act but rather simply an inhuman act. Therefore we do not seek to eliminate terrorists <who claim to have some cause> but rather we seek to eliminate the inhuman <who have no cause anyone would want to stand behind>.

In the end … terror gives them exactly what they want. Let’s not give them what they want.


          –   News on TV. Oh my. Rarely have I been so disappointed in American television. Flipping channels you saw a battle of who could use the word terrorism first, who could speculate <with caveats> the most extreme and who could bludgeon you with whatever they had to bludgeon you with at that moment.


If anyone could use a lesson in “less words communicate more” the news industry is it. The American president used less than 3 minutes to say “we are not sure what happened or who did it and we will tell you when we do. Do not jump to conclusions. We will hunt down who did it.” The American news television have spent 30 hours doing that. The difference? News has filled the additional 29 hours and 57 minutes with speculation.


             Where we go from here.



The London Marathon official … “we will proceed … send a very clear message to those responsible we will not be deterred.” The Brits have it right. In World War 2 it was “stay calm and carry on” <as bombs dropped nightly>. America is still shocked by domestic acts of terror. It happens other places … not here.  We can either become a paranoid nation driven by fear of “what’s next” or a country that remains calm and carries on. This is our choice.



Unity and the blame game. I imagine I could have just said any actions which create division among Americans. It is a separate bigger thought but philosopher Leszek Kolakowski  outlined something called “the Myth of Unity.” He suggested that there is a type of unity created as the result of a crisis or shock. He also suggests that is an artificial façade of unity which cannot survive where a consciousness of moral and political crisis has seeped through and taken root. I imagine my point is that not all moments are created equal. We can use this moment as one to focus on ongoing unity or diminish it by reverting back to the divisive path we seem to be moving forward on. Once again … this is our choice.  





america one heartbeatAs I stated earlier … I would not be surprised if this was an American tragedy … Americans harming other Americans.


Terror these days is created by those close to home. Everywhere. Libyans harming Libyans. Pakistanis harming Pakistanis. Norwegians harming Norwegians. Americans harming Americans.


The list goes on and on.


We may seek to find enemies from afar … but most of them seem to reside within the confines of our own countries borders.



“we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.”



I apologize if anyone believes I am diminishing the tragedy by using a quote from Pogo. But we seem often to seek evil anywhere but where we are <because we believe in good and believe we are a good country>. And even while that may be so <that we are a good country> there will always reside a ‘not good’ minority seeking to find a voice – going to whatever extent they need to do so.


Anarchists called terrorism “propaganda by the deed.”


Events like this are measured by the deed <by us> and by the propaganda <by them>.



Ultimately I would like the propaganda to be focused on whatever absurd irrational attitude that drove their behavior. But I am an attitudes & behavior guy.


Anarchists, wackjobs … the cowardly … actually have some attitudes or beliefs that drive them to this act of behavior. If we attack those things maybe we can deter people from having the attitude that creates this behavior. That is called “enlightening the ignorant” in my little world.




I was thinking about this and just began writing.


My thoughts go out to everyone and anyone effected by this act.




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Written by Bruce