samedi, novembre 14, 2015

Yes, we are at war

In a Mexican-themed restaurant in West Philadelphia, we celebrated my cousin's daughter's graduation to the next step of her career - a gouache of ceviche, sangria, jicama salad and lively chatter.

Over the past decade,   the neighborhood that is home to the University of Pennsylvania has become a lively hub for ethnic restaurants (and chains), upscale makeup boutiques, and a nightlife designed to appeal to sophomores and their visiting parents alike. 

At nine o'clock, the streets were crowded, mostly with young people on their way to hear music and sip lattes,  party with friends in a dormitory, or study for a Monday exam (not likely).

As my son steered expertly through the illuminated city, past the theaters and Chinese restaurants and the darkened Catholic basilica, I glanced at my Facebook page, then quickly turned to my BBC app.

And wept. "No. No. No."

Young people, like the ones on the Philly streets, gathered for a concert.  Families watching a soccer match, indulging in the (relatively) harmless national competition that Europeans seem to love (considerably less lethal than using swords and crossbows, which they did for centuries).  Couples eating in one of the city's countless restaurants.

ISIS knows no borders, respects no treaties, professes a toxic mockery of one of the world's ancient faiths. 

Not in my name, said countless shocked Muslims across the world today, awaking to news of this massacre.

Yes, we are at war .  But not with Islam.  Not with the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and Syria. 

We fight the people who slay innocents celebrating the small and great rituals of life on a Friday evening, doing what human beings have done after a work week is over as long as there has been civilization.

Which isn't to say that this war will be won with lethal force - it seems, at best, a most imperfect solution.  Or that those who simply assign this battle to the realm of Christian apolocalyptic are doing anything more than desperately trying to file this chaos in a place that comforts them.

But I do believe, affirming the words of Pope Francis this morning, that we are engaged in a battle to save all that is redemptive and human and civilized about modern life.

I haven't a clue as to how we will win. But I don't believe that we can, whether in France or America, find places anymore in which to duck and hide - and pretend, like children in the dark, they aren't coming for us. 

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