Published on Thursday, September 20, 2001

We Should Show Our Human Face to the Nations of the World
by Elena Murphy
As the government of the US is planning to go to war against terrorism, let us stop and
think of what we really saw on that tragic day. We faced an act of terrible desperation, an
act of inhumane anger and an act of protest against both the United States and the
principles of valuing human life. 

It is so difficult not to respond with a stronger blow, not to "show them", not to kill another
innocent life, even if by an accident. We know, however, that it is difficult choices that are
most noble and heroic. We often think of heroism and heroic actions. Since childhood we
dream about becoming heroes and saving people, saving the world. For the people of the
United States, the tragic events gave a chance to see weather this country is really chosen
by history to lead the world to the common principles of humanity, freedom and value of
human life, weather it has a mind for the future of our civilization. For the rest of the world,
the chance is the same. 

How could it happen that people, human beings could commit such crimes? How can we,
as humanity outgrow terrorism, prevent it, eliminate it? 

"Nothing comes from nothing." Terrorism, to me is a sign of anger and desperation, and this
anger feeds on our actions as a country and as individuals. In the world of terrorism, there
are people who develop and exercise the terrible actions, and there are people who support
them, emotionally and financially. Terrorist cannot easily recruit people who do not believe
that the United States and other countries do not represent demonic forces of greed and
destruction. Terrorists cannot easily recruit people who are fed and have a roof over their
heads, which was not recently blown by a bomb from America or Israel. Terrorists cannot
recruit people who have not seen their brothers killed by an American bomb or an American

We must realize that terrorism is something all nations must fight against, but not with
bombs. We must realize that there are some legitimate grievances over what our country or
other countries are doing that creates such a support base for terrorism. We must also
realize that terrorism comes from weakness, desperation and the absence of the value to
human life. Many of the people who support terrorism live in horrific conditions without
proper food, shelter and see the loss of lives for the loved ones daily. 

The problem in fighting against terrorism is that it exists in almost every country now. And it
is often viewed as the only means of struggle, and supported throughout the Middle East,
Africa and other less fortunate countries in general. Even destroying one such man, as Bin
Laden would not help in curbing terrorism - it will only increase it, and others will come to
replace him. Terrorism feeds on death and, like a disease, spreads where these is
destruction and desperation. And in the current state of affairs, there are many places in
Middle East where terrorism can hide and prosper. In these conditions, military action would
need to be continued throughout the countries, and this means a global war. I agree with
what an American writer from Afghanistan said about starting a war which could lead troops
through other countries ". If the West wreaks a holocaust in those lands, that's a billion
people with nothing left to lose, that's even better from Bin Laden's point of view...the war
would last for years and millions would die, not just theirs but ours." 

If the war is started by attacking people in the Central South Asia and in the Middle East,
this will be another blow to the human principles of value of the human life, it will be a blow
to the progress of humanity towards these common ideals, and it will be a blow to the
United States as a country that stands for these ideals. Fire cannot be put out by fire and
terrorism cannot be overcome by continuing the circle of violence. Like a hungry and mad
dog, terrorism can only become more violent, if you bit it with a stick. 

Could it be that it is the intent of the terrorists to provoke other countries into an act of war
and use this opportunity to overthrow the governments of other countries and gain access to
the deadly weapons? It is certainly a possibility. 

We should fight terror. We should fight nobly. We should fight with a long-term approach,
knowing what is the most effective way of doing this. The nature of the terrorism and the
current state of the world make this way to be a way of peace. 

The United States, as a nation with Christian principles, as the leaders of the US
government like to say often, needs to "show them", but not the bombs, death and
punishment, but a human face, the one which tries to understand and to help, the one that
is compassionate and truthful. We should show our human face to the nations of the world.
So far, in the Middle East, they mostly saw the face of our bombs and rockets. They do not
know about the human face of America, and that's why it is so easy to demonize American
people and the country. 

American people, as well as other people in the world, must not trade life for a life, must not
satisfy their grief by killing or bombing other people, more hungry, more poor, more
desperate, less moral, if we so believe. 

If we are the nation of freedom, we should free ourselves from the chains of revenge and
anger. If we are the nation valuing human rights, we should value the lives of the people
overseas no less than the value of people in our land. All these are difficult concepts to
accept, but we have to, because this would decide weather we want to face the truth and
lead the world, or we want to minimize ourselves to the level of criminals of the humanity
and return eye for an eye. Do we want to confirm that we are the people who value the best
human principles or do we want to show our feudal inside and waive our big stick? The
leader of the world, as written in all the holy books, as taught by all our history and by pure
minds and warm hearts, the leader of the world is the one who has a big heart, not a big
stick. We must rise above our instincts and use our mind, use our best knowledge of what
we all about as people, use our dreams of tomorrow to build the better world for all. 

The world has outgrown the concept of eye for an eye with the recent events. Eliminating
terrorism is one of them. We all are called upon to see things in a different light. When we
saw what happened to people in New York, Washington, Pennsylvania, many of us started
to look at each other differently. People, whom I would have hurt yesterday, today feel much
closer to me. So it goes, villagers unite against attacking village, country against attacking
country. We always unite against common threat. Except this time, the treat is a loss of
our civilization, our humanity. And the village we need to defend is our live, our principles.
We should resolve our grievances with each other and other nations, where people are the
same and want peace and kindness, where people are pray to God for life and bread in the

Terrorism is not only desperation and anger it is a disease. It is a shame, a " glove in the
face" to our humanity. It screams at us with thousand dead - you have failed your
civilization, you have failed your planet, you have failed life. 

We are called by the time in our history to establish once and far all that there are common
principles in the world and resolve any problems that would lead to emergence of terrorism,
because terrorism is not human, it is a disease of pain and death and hopelessness and

We must speak to all of the nations in the world, work together and share, or condemn
ourselves to the everlasting wars and to the stone age of our civilization. 

It is us who have to take the difficult task of leading the world in peaceful, but passionate
development towards establishing the principles of life. Which country in the world is
positioned better then us to take a leadership in the principles of life and love and kindness
and co-existence? Which other country has enough bread on the table and roof over a head
to be able to worry about the values and principles of life? Which other country in the world
feels safer with its huge military power to speak freely and move the helping hand as a
stronger brother? Which of us is not able to sacrifice for his children to live in a safer place? 

If this country produced so many true leaders of humanity, like Martin Luther King. If this
country produced so many people bringing beauty to the world, like Louis Armstrong. I want
to believe that this country would be able to become a true leader of the world, take a
chance and use the democracy to speak out, to make decision, which bring peace. 

One thing I am sure about: If we go with "bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age", we,
as a nation, would be there already. 

Elena Murphy lives in Austin, Texas.