Sixteen Years Later...We're Still Struggling

Sep 11, 2017
If you're one of those unfortunate people whose lives have been changed by the visits of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, your future will likely contain a new benchmark: the day those storms changed your reality. Watershed events in our lives become standards by which future events, good or bad, are measured. For youngsters, Harvey or Irma may be the first real tragedy they've faced. They'll become the standards by which "bad days" will be measured going forward. If you're older, there are other standard by which bad days are measured. Today is the sixteenth anniversary of one we all recognize: 9/11. Sixteenth years have passed since terror left an indelible mark on our national psyche. Sixteen years later, I wonder how much we've learned- or forgotten- about 9/11 and what it means. On 9/12/01, we accepted the fact we were in a pitched global battle for our collective lives. Today, it seems some have fallen back to the fallacious "we can reason with them" argument. Their unwillingness to accept terrorists' ultimate goal (our elimination) keeps them turning the other cheek and being consistently surprised when they're slapped by the other hand. Their willingness to accept - if not welcome- the extreme of virtually any position is why we find ourselves in a pickle today. Rather than simply recognizing the extremes of any movement as the far-out elements incapable of change, these well-meaning dunderheads have allowed the extremes to become the faces of everything from our political parties to the youth movement. Radicals, be they liberal, conservative, militant or pacifist, aren't roadmaps to anything except problems for the rest of us. Calling their behavior "aggressively campaigning for social change" isn't recognizing their dedication to their beliefs; it's ignoring their goal. People who burn down a home aren't "remodelers" they're "arsonists." There's a big difference. Not recognizing the difference isn't just naive, it's dangerous. When you see asocial aggression a violent response isn't just the right answer, it's the only answer. The differences between asocial behavior and social aggression are the differences between terrorist attacks and playground brawls. Playground brawls are examples of social aggression - attempts to assert social dominance. Once the control's been established, things quickly return to normal. Terror destroys the playground- and the players. If you're reading one of our wires, you're likely familiar with the expression "sheep or sheep dog." One follows the flock; the other protects the flock from aggressors. Outdoors enthusiasts generally fall into the second category. We observe the way the natural world operates. We participate in it, either by watching without interference or participating in the "circle of life" as an apex predator. Our observations have made us aware of the difference between social aggression and asocial behavior. It also makes us less tolerant of asocial behavior. When we see antifa protesters starting fires and attacking others, our inclination is to grab a blunt object and administer some corrective social training. Those who encourage to "listening to what they're really saying " rather than responding to their actions are the equivalent of sheep suggesting a wolf really prefers vegetable soup to mutton. They fail to realize is the message some want to deliver is simple: "you lose, I win." Sixteen years after 9/11, it still amazes me that there are those who are willing to wager their lives - and ours- on holding a moral high ground radical aggressors don't even recognize exists. The "moral high ground" folks want us all to be "better" than our attackers - even if it kills us. Terrorists aren't looking to be "understood" they're looking to destroy us. Sixteen years after they demonstrated their willingness to die to eliminate as many of us as possible it seems we've forgotten at least of the lesson. Mortal combat is brutal - but denying a fight means you've already lost. —Jim Shepherd