Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Passivity Stunts Peace Efforts

VIEWPOINT Passivity Stunts Peace Efforts By Saajan Patel

Sacrifice. Reflection. I don’t see these words used much outside of theology classes and religious institutions. I don’t believe that the reason for this is a mystery; it is the simple understanding that people like to support anything and everything so long as they can do it in relative safety and hypocrisy.

Face it. President Bush is not going to war. Neither is Senator Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), nor any other political figure. Nor any actor, for that matter, as we watch Mel Gibson strut onto the safety of a movie set while others go to the front lines of Afghanistan. Men and women who have enlisted in our armed forces are going to war. They and their families and friends are making the real sacrifices, and some of them enlisted because it was the only way society gave them a chance to leave their economic imprisonment behind. Rich people make wars, and too often, poor people fight them.

Everyday it surprises me that so many people can cry for war from their own homes, their own couches. It amazes me that people who have never been denied food or shelter, have never been homeless, can so quickly decide that U.S. bombs should destroy the homes of others miles away. At the same time, I also cannot help but notice that there are those who cry for peace yet are unwilling to stand up for what they believe to be right. They do not believe in military tribunals or bombs, and some don’t believe in any form of violence at all, yet they seem to abhor action to the same degree. Then all we have is a lot of opinions without anyone acting on them.

I oppose the war in so far as it hurts innocent people and needlessly risks American lives, but I’m not going to lie and say that girls being allowed back into school in Afghanistan is something that would have been accomplished without the U.S. armed forces. For my part, I will try to raise money for Afghan refugees, and I will condemn U.S. actions when I believe they are out of bounds.

If I feel that some actions should be protested, I’ll be a part of the protests. For example, the U.S. freezing of Al Barakaat’s assets, the major commercial syndicate of Somalia, may cause the collapse of that nation’s entire economy. Is it right to endanger millions in the search for justice? Still, I salute anyone who is willing to die for the ideal of freedom, though as military tribunals begin and the Bill of Rights gets put on the line, I wonder what they are risking their lives for if American freedom is already dead. That doesn’t mean that I am unpatriotic, nor am I a sell-out to Bush. I am staking my personal ground and I am willing to act on where I believe my place to be.

Why is action so important? When no one with sanity and humanity acts, the playing field is left to terrorists, who act both within governments and outside them. What good is victory, I would ask the Palestinians, if it is won by having nails shred through the bodies of Israeli children? In turn, what good is a homeland for Jews if it is bought by tyranny over those who have as much right to the land as you do? And if you faithfully believe in someone’s right to live in his or her ancestral homeland, give your American property back to the Native American tribe that had it first.

Terrorists, and I include members of governments in this, are fundamentally selfish, or at the least psychologically impaired. U.S. foreign policy was being friendlier to Palestine, and then Hamas attacked. Why? To avenge their fellow terrorists who were killed by Israelis. A greater display of selfishness and lack of concern for the true Palestinian welfare would be hard to come by. Every terrorist action gives the other side legitimacy for its own cause. When the terrorists hit America again – and I believe they will – they will cite the massacre of the Afghani village of Niazi Kala on Dec. 30, where according to the U.N., “unarmed women and children” were “chased and killed by American helicopters,” some “as they fled to shelter” and others “as they tried to rescue survivors” (The London Times, Jan. 4). Or when they bomb Israel they will cite the recent destruction of Palestinian homes by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (who along with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat cannot enter Belgium lest they both be tried for crimes against humanity), which Israeli military affairs analyst Zeev Schiff said was “a shameful chapter” in Israel’s history.

Yet the terrorists will still be wrong. Nothing, whether it is the Sept. 11 or U.S. support of Israel, justifies the death of innocents. Yet that means we must look at our actions and judge accordingly, as our status as a superpower gives us a special place for moral leadership in the world. We are quickly moving to the point where no one is in the complete right, and I believe it is because many of those clamoring for violence aren’t thinking of sacrifice, or looking at themselves or their nation’s actions when they speak. Even the suicide bombers believed they were going to heaven, and they were really nothing more than cowards.

If you really believe in the war, then don’t wait another day to let someone die in your place. Enlist. And if you can’t stomach that, then at least contribute to the humanitarian side of the conflict, whether that means supporting Afghan refugees or American soldiers abroad. And if you believe in peace, then decide now what the price of peace is worth to you. Without more people working to reach the final goal of peace, there can be no real change, and everyone just goes on talking instead of acting. To all who have engaged in the search for the goal of peace in a way they believe, in every way from joining the armed forces to tutoring a child, I salute you.

As Alfred Adler once said, “It is easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them.”

Saajan Patel is a senior in the College.

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