connecting with culture
the opposite of terror
You have to hand it to those who carried out the attack on the World Trade Center five years ago. With no guns or bombs, and only a modicum of ‘human resources’, they obliterated an architectural icon of Western capitalism, killed nearly 3,000 people and cast a shadow over the world, probably for decades to come.
Theirs was an evil act. But it was also brilliantly planned and bravely executed. Whatever you say about the ‘cowardly’ nature of suicide missions, a man still needs the courage of his conviction to surrender his own life in the process.As the West still struggles to co-ordinate an effective response, the mistakes mount up, along with the terror groups and ‘sleeper cells’ that have spread like a cancer around the globe.
But if the terrorists can change the world, why can’t we? If a small number of dedicated young men can gather like clandestine home groups to make their plans, can’t a network of Christ’s followers plot a disarming campaign in response? One that is sweeping in its scale, creative in its scope, daring in its execution and positive in its effect?
We’re not called to be reactionary, of course, as we engage with the world, but to set an example: living life according to the values of a very different kingdom, bearing the fruit of a very different spirit. Perhaps we should start by asking: what is the opposite of terror? And how would we set about changing the world if, like the ‘9/11’ hijackers, we had no recourse to guns or bombs? It’s hard to resist the macho call to arms and the rush to baptise the so-called ‘war on terror’ as a ‘just war’. When we search for the opposite of terror, the words ‘love’ and ‘peace’ feel too insipid, too spineless, too unrealistic for this post-‘9/11’ age.
Yet ‘love’ is no dreamy, hippy-neutered mantra: it is God, personified in Christ – a tough act to follow. ‘Peace’ is no limp-wristed, two-fingered salute, but the obstinate courage of Gandhi, the passion of King, the suicidal conviction of Bonhoeffer. We hear, and speak often, of the ‘threat’ of Islam. Yet we also believe that ‘he that is in us is greater than he that is in the world.’ If we believe the power of such words, we should act on them, too: creatively, courageously, practically. In love and peace, for God’s sake.