I suspect that most who read this have heard all about Wednesday's terror attack in London. There are a couple of things which you may not have seen or read about the attack though, particularly if you follow only the major U.S. press.
|A woman holds a placard at a vigil in Trafalgar Square on Thursday. Photograph: Hannah Mckay/Reuters|
Think about it. You know, or should know, what terrorists do to Muslim women who stand against them. Can you imagine standing in her shoes? Can you? You know that every terrorist now has this image on his or her cell phone. You know it. If this is not a portrait of courage then such a portrait does not exist.
After Wednesday's vigil in Trafalgar Square, Omer El-Hamdoon, deputy secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said:
“It’s good to see that many people have come out today. This is an important message that Londoners need to display which is that terrorism will not divide us and it is not going to stop us and scare us. For any person to attack innocent people is outrageous and despicable and we condemn it unreservedly.”
A peace vigil will be held today in Birmingham to promote unity, after the city’s most prominent mosque issued a statement condemning the Westminster terror attack as “barbaric and heartless."
The city centre vigil has been organised by the Stand Up To Racism group and MEND (Muslim Engagement and Development) and will begin at 5 p.m. in High Street.
Mosque chairman Muhammad Afzal said of Wednesday’s atrocity in London:
“Nothing justifies taking lives of innocent people. Those responsible must be brought to justice."
Urging calm within all communities and offering condolences to those bereaved by the attack, he added:
“The Islamic faith does not allow anyone to take the life of others. No religion justifies the indiscriminate killing of individuals in such a barbaric and heartless way, and such acts only serve to differentiate between the misguided and the just.”
I would not be a bit surprised to receive adverse comments for posting this. Some will say, "those are just words." That's fine. I'll just note that people, including myself, have been asking for years where the peaceful Muslim voices are. And I'll just refer you to the image above. There are many others.
Anyway, America, I'm going to keep quoting the following and there's nothing anyone can do about it.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
This is the first principle of America. In truth, it's the first principle of civilization.
It means that all men are equally human. None are more human, none are less human. None are better, none are worse. We are all fundamentally human, and our rights come to us from our creator, not from other men. Whether you regard your creator as God or as Nature makes no difference. God and Nature are self-evidently very much greater than humans, therefore the rights we are endowed with cannot be given or taken by men.
Our equality and rights come at a cost, and that cost is responsibility. Only human beings can have natural rights, and only human beings can exercise responsibility.
Highly esteemed people are not more human with more unalienable rights. Lowly esteemed people are not less human with fewer unalienable rights. People who are on the other side of an argument are not less human with fewer rights, just as those on the same side are not more human with more rights.
As a case in point, I am a gun guy. My right to keep and bear arms within the framework of American society is protected by the Second Amendment to the Constitution and cannot be infringed by the state. There are people who are anti-gun. Their right to keep and bear arms is also protected. Just as importantly, their right to be anti-gun, to speak out against guns, to peacefully gather in protest about guns, and to petition the state regarding their beliefs and positions about guns -- these things are protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. As are my rights to do the same in support of guns.
Now as a gun guy, I have the same natural right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness as the anti-gun folks. I also have a self-evident right to defend and protect my Life and Liberty and pursuit of Happiness, and this includes the right to use deadly force, with or without a gun, to do so. The anti-gun folks have the same rights, and these rights are recognized in state and federal law all across the land.
My responsibility is to never threaten, abridge or take the unalienable rights of another human who is not directly trying to take my Life or my Liberty or destroy my ability to peacefully pursue Happiness. My responsibility is to treat those who differ with me as I would have them treat me -- as an equal human being whose unalienable rights may not be infringed.
Here is where dishonesty comes in. As soon as an anti-gun person lies, cheats or steals to prevail in the argument, they violate the First Principle by treating me not as an equal human being, but as an object to be used and manipulated. This standard applies to me also.
The same is true for name calling. If I call anti-gun people "bleeding heart libtards" -- even if I only think of them in that fashion and never say the words -- then I am violating the First Principle. Flip the coin and the obverse is identical.
Our nation is in mortal peril, and it's not because the government is doing bad things or because legislative bodies at all levels are corrupt or because the press has become nothing more than the propaganda arm of a certain ideology. These things are only symptoms. They are not the disease.
The disease is one of smashed principles. Most of the people who live in this country -- this America where the First Principle is that all men are created equal -- have become entirely too accustomed to thinking of and treating others as a means to an end, as objects to be ridiculed, called names, lied to, cheated, stolen from. This includes me. I'm no more or less human than any other American, and I live in the same environment with the same exposure to the ongoing rot of moral and ethical degeneration.
Our rights will not -- cannot -- save us. In the land of the Sovereign Citizen, only our responsibility can save us.