Our Gravest Temptation

The terrorists have not just attacked thousands of innocent civilians. They have launched an attack against our ideals, against our value for human life, against our sense of national identity. Evil terror wants us to be controlled by fear, and resort to indiscriminate revenge. The terrorists believe that America is corrupted beyond redemption. They want to provoke America into ugly, indiscriminate responses that will turn more hopeless people in the world against us and produce more martyrs for their cause.

The arsenals of this enemy are fanatic beliefs and religious passions that translate into sacrificed lives. Cruise missiles don't defeat such zealotry.

How do we go to war against hate? Our response will be a test of who we are. In this "campaign against terrorism," our strongest weapons are our ideals and values-our belief in the dignity and worth of every human life, our conviction that nations are strong when they respect the rights of all, and our determination to pursue what is right in ways that are just.

These defining characteristics of national identity are anathema to the terrorists; this is precisely what their terrorism seeks to destroy. That is why, in a real sense, our struggle is at heart a spiritual one. The evil we have seen does not yield easily to search-and-destroy missions. It is overcome in the end through a resolute commitment to a moral political vision. Even deeper, the religious community always declares that such evil is finally defeated through faith in the power of redeeming love.

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Sojourners Magazine November-December 2001
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