Sympathy for America, empathy from America

No sensible, sane, normal person condones terrorism. No sensible, sane, normal person condones terror or violence of any kind. The tragic events of Sept. 11 in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania came as a reminder – a shocking, painful one – that all is not milk and honey with the world we live in. Dark, evil forces do exist, and they do assert themselves so horribly every now and then. The sad fact is that just as there are sensible, sane and normal people on our globe – a majority, no doubt – there are insensible, insane and mad people as well. The latter are a minority, luckily, but, unluckily, they do affect our world in serious, at times even crucial, ways.

It is sad and tragic that thousands of innocent people lost their lives on Sept. 11. Millions of people, not just in America, but throughout the world, also suffered shock, disbelief, anger, frustration and deep sorrow.

What happened was immensely disheartening. People’s reaction to it the world over, however, was truly heartening. The condemnation of the horrible act; the feelings of sympathy expressed to the families of the bereaved, to the American people and to the American government by the international community; the declaration of war against terror by all members of the human species; the candles that were lit; the flowers that were laid; and all other forms of mourning, protest against terror and solidarity with America testify to the fact that a great deal is still well with our world.

America, I am trying to stress, received a great deal of sympathy from the vast majority of the inhabitants of today’s world. There may exist some who, for one reason or another, “hate” America. The Sept. 11 events, however, have shown that the many love and sympathise with it.

America, I would argue, has more, much more, friends and lovers than enemies and haters worldwide.

There are many, the world over, who grieved for what happened because of what actually happened to America. Human beings are capable not just of sympathy but also of empathy. And there are many, as well, who saw the evil that took place in America on Sept. 11 as an incarnation of the evil that takes place in their own lives and worlds.

America is by no means a nation of innocence – i.e., free from evil, suffering and destruction. Despite arguments to the contrary, America has suffered evil and terror since the very beginning, from the moment Columbus stepped into the so-called New World in 1492 or the moment the Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth in 1620, all through King Philip’s War, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, Pearl Harbour, the Oklahoma bombing and the many wars that it fought outside its own territory, the two world wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, etc. Americans have had their share of suffering, as a result of war and as a result of all kinds of acts of violence.

Nevertheless, America is so huge and powerful, its society is so privileged, and the acts of evil and terror are so infrequent that many have come to view, and it has perhaps come to view itself, as sheltered, protected, peaceful, serene, untouched and untouchable.

Which is in sharp contrast with what has been happening in the rest of the world. Outside America, terror and violence have reigned in many parts of the world – and constantly and aggressively so – for decades. People, for example, in the Middle East, in many African countries, in the Balkan region, in Spain, in Ireland, in many Asian regions have been plagued by violence and terror – violence and terror that result from the acts of terrorists, but also violence and terror that result from conflicts, occupation, acts of aggression by individuals, groups and states.

One hopes that those responsible for the Sept. 11 deeds will be identified and made to pay for what they did. One would also hope that this type of evil individuals or groups will be eliminated, so that they won’t commit any such acts of horror in the future.

But one also hopes that America and the Americans will be made more aware than they are now that what happened in America on Sept. 11 has been happening in many parts of the world for decades, that in the same way America and Americans have suffered, millions throughout the world have been suffering, and that just as America and Americans are so determined to find the architects and executors of the said acts, they will show equal determination to find and fight the architects and executors of acts of violence and terror that plague many parts of the globe.

While some Americans are amply aware of what goes on in the world around them, many Americans – alas – know little or nothing about the problems (including terror, conflicts and occupation) from which many fellow human beings are suffering. It is easy to live in America and know nothing about what happens in the world.

What I am trying to say is that there is an opportunity now for America and the world to work together not only to find those who have done what they have done in America or those who “hate” America and mean ill to it, but also those who are causing havoc in many parts of the world, due to insanity, shortsightedness, stupidity or paranoia.

America and Americans have, and one is heartened by this, received a great deal of sympathy and support from the world. The world, in turn, needs both sympathy and empathy from America and the Americans. As a superpower, and as a country which cherishes noble ideals, America can do a lot for the world at this point in time.

We Middle-Easterners, for example, like the American people, want to get rid of, to uproot, the acts of terror, as well as the causes of these acts which have plagued us for the most part of the century.

Death, much death, happened in America on Sept. 11, but death, much death, has been happening in our part of the world on a daily (nay an hourly) basis. We also need America’s solidarity with us and intervention on our behalf.

Mr. Ahmad Y. Majdoubeh contributed above article to the Jordan Times.

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