Letter to a Terrorist

Desperate One,

I want you to stop killing and destroying.

What do you want?

That is the question that many might ask you if they took the time.

It is obvious that you want others to be afraid and to suffer. The real question is: Why? What do you hope to achieve by terrorizing? Your actions are a means to an end, are they not? Your willingness to die for your cause points to some higher purpose, some worthy goal deserving of great sacrifice. Have you made this clear? Have you expressed what you really want? If you have, I have not heard you. If that is the case I apologize. Please tell me again.

There are better ways for us to problem-solve.

There are some who would prefer to deny the truth of your humanity. There are those who want to quickly dehumanize you into nothing more than a vicious animal that needs to be exterminated. Frankly, that’s a big mistake. It’s a blinding perspective born out of fear and ignorance. The real truth is that you are just as human as I am.

That’s what makes you really scary. You show me a part of myself.

It would be so much easier if you were actually a monster. If you were a monster then I could believe that I am not like you. Such a fantasy! The truth is that neither of us is a monster and yet we are both capable of such monstrous behaviors, aren’t we? The other side of the coin is equally true: You and I are both capable of rising above our destructiveness. We are both capable of living up to our Higher Nature. You and I need to get past the limiting illusions of our Fear and Anger which keeps us living a Lie of Separateness. We need to move into the truth of our Real Unity and the Logical Compassion that is its hallmark.

Once we establish our common ground we also have to acknowledge that each of us has legitimate needs and desires. Many people skip over this part of the story. Many just assume. They assume that you are only a thoughtless killer lacking any shred of decency or conscience. That makes it much easier for people to hate you and to support those who want to kill you. It’s so much easier for people if they think you are so different from them. If they realized that you basically want what they want it would make hating you a lot more difficult.

You have a family and friends just like I do, don’t you? I’m guessing you want to be happy and live a long and meaningful life, just as I do. You probably want to see your children grow up to be healthy and happy in their lives. You want to enjoy your grandchildren someday, don’t you? I think we are probably much more alike than we are different. So why is it so much easier to focus on our differences? Are they really more important than what we have in common?

So what is it that motivates you to kill and destroy? What makes you willing to commit suicide for your cause? Martin Luther King once said: “a riot is the language of the unheard”. Perhaps it can also be said that acts of terrorism are the language of the unheard.

If I start to hear you and understand you, will you stop what you’re doing?

I am desperate, too.

I’m desperate for our collective madness to stop. I’m desperate to end the suffering that we both keep manufacturing. I know I need to take a good, hard look in the mirror and see how I have been contributing to our shared problem. I’m a fool if I think that it’s “all your fault”. I need to take full responsibility for my part. I want you to do the same. We are part of the same family and the highest responsibility of all family members is to love each other.

It is high time that we both live up to that responsibility.

One thought on “Letter to a Terrorist

  1. Rose

    This was a great, thought–provoking piece. I have often thought that we need to ask the intercession of St. Paul for the conversion of the ISIS terrorists–he was a persecutor of Christians in roughly the same geographic area and after he repented he became one of the greatest apostles.
    St. Paul, pray for them and for us

    Reply

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