What do you do when you’re consumed with the knowledge that you’re right, that you know the right way, the right thing to do, but you need to convince other people to listen?
Most of us would come up with a plan, construct our arguments, anticipate and prepare against counter arguments, then plead our case.
But what if your passion causes you to lose perspective? What if the world around you, a world that increasingly makes ostracization and violence against others acceptable, inspires a different way?
Last year, staff at a hotel in Ohio heard an Emirati man speaking Arabic on his phone, and called 911 to falsely claim he was pledging allegiance to ISIS.
When a Texas deputy was shot and killed in April, several websites falsely reported that a trio of Muslim refugees were responsible, to stir up support for stronger deportation and immigration policies.
In May, authorities in Germany discovered that a soldier had registered as a Syrian seeking asylum, with the intent of planning an attack and blaming it on refugees.
|image from Debate.org|
Playing the blame game is not new. In the U.S., white Americans have been pointing the finger at black Americans for hundreds of years.
American minorities are now flipping the script and blaming Trump’s right-wing and supremacist supporters.
Even Trump has weighed in, with conspiracy theories that accuse Jews of attacking their own synagogues and Muslims of attacking their own mosques.
But what about the collateral damage? The reinforcement of misguided beliefs and prejudices through everyday terror, feeding an endless cycle of destruction and encouraging similar predatory acts of cowardice?
For a long time after the September 11 attacks, the meme in America was “if we do/don’t do XYZ, the terrorists will win.”
So, what do we do when the terrorists are the people next door? The people who won’t be found through profiling or names on lists? The people who feel a few sacrifices might need to be made for everyone to buy into their world view? How are they any different than the people they’re trying to combat?
We have historical examples of purges and a holocaust which many choose to ignore or deny. We have modern-day genocides to which we turn a blind eye. We continue down the same path with the justification that “this time it’s different.” The roles of persecutor and persecuted may shift, but the result is always the same.
When we sit in silence, shake our heads, or shrug in disbelieving defeat, we are giving tacit assent. These horrors then become our responsibility, because we are nurturing the belief that this vilification is justified.
Speaking up, speaking out, admitting our fear, and showing we’re willing to take a rational look at what seems different—that’s the only way to protect humanity from our latest threat: the menace within.