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The Real Enemy

“Fear bounces.” E.E. Cummings.


The execution of people like Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden or even events in North Korea, USA and Syria highlight that the strength of a people lies not in its military power, but in its moral fibre and in the vision of its leaders.

Never has this been truer yet harder to believe. Indeed, to make peace with any terrorist we are learning too slowly that it will require more than the trillions of dollars’ worth of military might.

It’s just not working!

We require a renewed wisdom to which we are unaccustomed as we are up against a formidable enemy that seems to grow the more it is threatened or defeated. But what is this enemy that everyone faces from the factory workers of Kentucky to the kite runners of Damascus? Let’s see what we know about it? We know its henchmen gladly surrender their lives to it. We know that even when we smash the human vessels that contain it, like a boggart in Harry Potter, it takes the form of that which we most fear inspiring more martyrs and heroes. We know we need to think beyond stealth helicopters, Navy Seal teams and suicide bombers to defuse this lethal enemy. We know the enemy is not confined to a single people like Donald Trump or Kim Jong-un, nor a country such as Iran, nor a religion such as Islam.

Our true enemy is the ‘F’ word itself – fear!

Only fear can call forth wars under the guise of either Christianity, Islam or economic prosperity. Only fear justifies murder as martyrdom or justice. In this regard, we are all the target of terrorist attacks or foreign military occupation. I’m sure we’ll find yet again with the next execution by military drone of an ISIS figurehead that fear can’t be beaten with guns because we’re not fighting an army, we’re fighting a plague that continues on past its initial host to infect countless others.

What do we need to do to win?

Quite simply we need to look to not win but ‘win over’. This requires courage, sacrifice and a vision drawn from the example of people like Jesus and Blessed Edmund Rice who trusted that fear only dies when it is turned upon itself. We are right in trying to contain it, but eventually it can only be defeated from within by replacing fear with the other ‘F’ word – faith! As always, fear will disappear when we have the faith that love will be a more powerful influence on all those directly or indirectly terrorised by fear.

Conor Finn, Dean of Formation