Vaccine for the World

posted Mar 23, 2014, 6:55 PM by Golden Knight

by Joseph Nofal



We see them everywhere: on the television, in the newspaper, and even on the streets on the way to work. Philanthropy suggests that impoverished people’s problems will all vanish with generous donations of a few dollars or even millions, but this is naïve and will not solve anything. Philanthropy needs to be based on instruction because people who are living in poverty must be self reliant to survive, need to learn how to produce on their own, and will learn how to contribute to society.

According to The New York Times, 49% of people living in sub-Saharan Africa are living in absolute poverty and are in desperate need of help. The Wall Street Journal says that in the last 60 years at least $1 trillion dollars of development related aid has been given to Africa from rich countries. 


    Unfortunately, The Wall Street Journal also says that more than 50% of the population, a percentage that has almost doubled in the last 20 years, is living on less than a dollar a day. The money that is being given to them is not helping at all, and this is because of the corruption in the government. The African Union, an organization of African Countries, estimated in 2002 that this corruption is costing the continent 150 billion dollars a year. The money that is being given to them is not even reaching the people so it is not helping. Part of the aid can go to food, water, medicine, etc., while the other part can go to sending teachers to educate people in different trades so that the people will learn about fields such as agriculture, plumbing, construction, computers, etc. and be able to increase the standard of living themselves. Being denied of their intrinsic and basic human necessities, Africa’s people are in need of help, and it is essential that they are receiving more than just money.   


Habitat for Humanity is a non- profit organization that not only builds, renovates, and repairs affordable homes for people with a lower income, but also assists them contribute to their community. A large value that they hold by is that they give hand ups and not handouts. This means that Habitat does not just build houses for people who need them, but they have the possible homeowners go through a very in depth application process. If they are chosen they have to put in 500 hours of work on their house and prove that they can afford the low cost mortgage, which teaches and ensures the values of hard work and dedication. Southern Methodist University conducted a study of the effects of Habitat on the economy in Dallas and found that the 770 households that they built generate $29.1 million dollars in economic activity as well as 200 additional jobs every year. Each household generates about $38,000 in additional economic activity and this has a huge effect on their community. Habitat for Humanity not only aids people with lower income, but through this they have influenced the whole region. 

My family and I are very involved in our church and we participate in these two events every year; one which is around Thanksgiving and the other which is around Christmas. During Thanksgiving, all of the local less fortunate people come and we give them baskets full of your typical Thanksgiving meal: turkey, corn, stuffing, etc., so that they may enjoy their holiday. We do the same thing at Christmas, but instead of food baskets we give all of the kid’s toys and a chance to meet “Santa” as well as a hot meal. This has been a tradition in my family but as the years went on I began to notice that the same people were coming back every year. This got me thinking and I asked my parents one day, “Why do the same people need this stuff if we gave it to them last year?” and they replied with a small lecture about how they never got a proper education or training so they have limited job opportunities and it hard for them to move up in their field. It made me sad to think that these people’s lives will always be limited just because they were deprived of proper instruction. That is why I feel passionate about this topic and think that if they were given that instruction, they wouldn’t need to rely on us for that Thanksgiving meal and Christmas gift.

The Los Angeles Almanac estimates 254,000 men, woman, and children experience homelessness in the Los Angeles County at some point during the year, a number that has gone up 16% in the last two years. The general thought is that the government is going to help them and that it is not their problem, but according to Michael Arnold, the executive director of LAHSA, there has been a significant reduction in federal resources available for the homeless. The government is supporting less and less so someone else has to try to accommodate the 6,678 families that are living on the streets. Donating a few dollars will not have the impact necessary to make a difference in these people’s lives. The reason for this is that the Los Angeles Almanac also says that 33- 66% of the impoverished have substance abuse problems and another 25% have some kind of mental illness. Money will do no good in these cases. There are solutions that well exceed the effects of cash. “Housing First” is a program that has aided thousands of families, primarily ones with a single mother, in rebuilding their lives in permanent housing. It is also just a small fraction of the organizations that do more than donate money, but help set up their whole lives. The 254,000 people of Los Angeles that are living without a place that they can call their own need help, and money alone will not do the job.

Poverty is a plague that spreads quickly throughout the world, and the cure is not money. It is not something that can be paid off, for that is just a temporary solution because eventually that money will be exhausted and the disease will return. The world needs a vaccine, and it comes in the form of education. 

Looking Ahead for Peaceful Coexistence

posted Oct 17, 2012, 1:15 AM by Golden Knight

By David Yoo

 It has been over eight months since the leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, (North Korea) Kim Jong-il's death. After Kim Jong-il's death, the world was waiting to see his successor Kim Jong-un assume leadership in North Korea. Reactions were mixed, and many did not know whether the new leader would follow his father's footsteps and lead the nation, battered by famine and lack of civil liberties, into another fifty or more years of anti-U.S. And anti-South Korean relations. Indeed, the diplomatic relations between the United States and North Korea as well as between South Korea and North Korea have been very tenuous during the Kim Jong-il regime, as Kim Jong-il was never afraid of boldly challenging the political and diplomatic relations that his nation had with both nations. Many optimists believed that the new leader would thaw the current relationship that the United States and South Korea have with North Korea, while many pessimists, cynics, and realists assert that no such thawing would be possible.

     Taking a look at the eight months timeline of North Korean diplomatic and military exercises reveals evidence and events that seem to satisfy both the optimists and pessimists, ultimately obfuscating Kim Jong-un's motives and political experience. For example, upon Kim Jong-il's death on 17 December 2011, Kim Jong-un announced on 29 February 2012 that “North Korea will freeze nuclear tests, long-range missile launches, and uranium enrichment at its Yongbyon plant. In addition, the new leader invited international nuclear inspectors who were ejected in 2009. The Obama administration responded by offering 240,000 tonnes of food, chiefly in the form of biscuits. This indicated a softening of the erstwhile North Korean insistence that food aid must comprise grains.” The possibility of the new leader allowing nuclear inspectors into the nation can be a crucial step in thawing the cold relationship between the United States/South korea and North Korea. The prospects of such a plan are hopefully still intact, as such a move would mean absolute gains and no losses for the global community.

    On the other hand, many point to the recent and controversial order made by Kim Jong-un that his troops maintain vigilance “during upcoming training exercises between South Korea and the United States, saying they should be ready to lead a 'sacred war,'”. Though Kim Jong-un's orders seem all too ambiguous for any discernible threat to be detected, such words directed to his military still evoke fear in the hearts and minds of many. It has become absolutely necessary in this climate to seek out the new leader's cooperation and to create a more transparent North Korea, even if it takes years. The promises made by the new leader show, at least, some form of concession in terms of the need to cooperate. Such political opportunity would, if rarely, never open itself up when the first chance is spoiled. It is necessary to show the new leader that the old regime can be done away with, such as what happened in the Soviet Union, and to demonstrate that there is hope for both Koreas for peaceful coexistence where nuclear threats and conventional assaults will not occur.

Cultural-Lingual Interaction

posted Jun 9, 2012, 11:26 PM by Golden Knight   [ updated Jun 10, 2012, 1:03 PM ]

By JD Kieffer


Since the dawn of mankind, humans have interacted with one another peacefully, diplomatically, and, at times, violently. Though we have diverged incredibly in the past ten thousand years, at our core we remain human. Yet, often we forget this. We ridicule people for their strange and alien customs. We argue over petty things like the type of clothes worn and the accent spoken with. As a unique generation based on technology and ease of access emerges into the world, it is forced to confront these differences. What this means is that we can expect to experience an even more intercultural interaction in the coming years. In other words, as the world becomes increasingly interconnected, we have to make a choice. This choice is whether to remain culturally isolated or to attempt to gain an understanding of the outside, of that which is beyond everyday interaction. The key to promoting peace on earth is to acquaint ourselves with other cultures, specifically languages.

One of the primary reasons for our global diversity is language. Language can convey a shade of meaning far deeper than words themselves. A change of inflection or intonation can give a particular word an entirely different meaning. “Das Wetter ist Schon?” or “Is the weather nice?” in German, asked with such a lingering tone indicates a question. Das Wetter ist Schon said flatly demonstrates a statement. By comparing the tones of two languages, one can construe a distinction in culture. In French, the phrase “La paix se trouve dans la comprehension”, or “Peace lies in understanding”, evinces the romantic undertones of the French language. The same phrase translated into Indonesian, “Perdamian Ditemukan Pema Haman”, suggests a tropical, more exotic flow. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis states that because language and culture are inseparable, language defines world-view and outlook. Why are there so many words for rice in Japanese? Why do Norwegians have dozens of words for snow? The answer is because language and culture are inherently one in the same. 

But through all this disparity and division in the world, runs a common trend: we are all humans and share the same values at heart. In educating our youth, we instill “transcultural” principles that last for a lifetime, regardless of the language spoken. What we need to do as teachers is to integrate a lingual education into the standard curriculum. It has been shown consistently that young children have a propensity for grasping language in a unique way; they become adept in usage in a matter of months. In this way, we can inculcate compassionate and liberal world-views into our children at a young age. And isn’t that what is needed in this world? Compassion for another’s perspective? We see argument after argument, debate after debate, and conference after conference in the newspapers and on the television, fueling our acceptance of division. Some would argue that competition and fractious argument create superior ideas. Yet, global cooperation—well, global cooperation could produce results and solutions that are tangible. 

Overall, we are shaped by the decisions that we have no control over and the ones that we do have control over. By educating ourselves and our youth in language, a foundation is formed. We will effectively create a multidimensional acceptance of one another and see the true oneness that exists in humanity. We will be able to be compassionate and understanding with regard to the choices and beliefs of other ethnic groups. We could cooperate on a global scale and discover solutions that lie in hiding. We can finally achieve our dream of world peace. As Albert Einstein said, “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding”.

Growing Tension in China

posted Jun 9, 2012, 11:25 PM by Golden Knight   [ updated Jun 10, 2012, 9:34 PM ]

By David Yoo


The recent story of Guancheng, the blind Chinese human rights activist and lawyer, has called into question the stance of the United States willingness to protect human rights. Guancheg brought this to attention initially by evading house arrest in his home village and escaping to the U.S Embassy in Beijing as a safe haven. His reasons for doing this were that he did not want to risk his life and the safety of his family by getting caught by state officials. However, after taking refuge in the embassy for six days, he left for a hospital due to his poor health. On Wednesday, May 2nd, 
Guancheng publicly announced that he regretted the move and now wants U.S. officials to help get him and his family to the United States. Guangcheng also stated from his hospital room in Beijing that, "I want [the United States] to protect human rights through concrete actions,” and that "[he and his family] are in danger.” He also expressed his hopes of being able to leave China with the help of the Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton. In an almost conclusive tone, Guangcheng cogently remarked "If we stay here or get sent back to Shandong, our lives would be at stake. Under such circumstances, I hope the U.S. government will protect us and help us leave China based on its values of protecting human rights."

Guangcheng's story has raised uncertainty and disputes regarding the United States' role in China's domestic affairs. On one hand, the United States has a major role in the preservation and protection of human rights world wide, as does any other country who signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On the other hand, many question the political legitimacy to meddle in foreign countries' domestic affairs while using the pretext of “protecting human rights”. Such speculation is undoubtedly necessary, as the use of false pretexts to interfere with a foreign government's sovereignty has been employed throughout history. There is, however, a certain nuance with Guangcheng's story that makes it distinct from all the other affairs. This nuance deals with the right to political asylum, or “the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution” and the moral obligations nations have to harbor those who are suffering in other countries from political oppression or persecution by torture or inhumane treatment. Guangcheng illuminated the basic principles of human rights and his fundamental right to seek political asylum in the United States. The reason this issue is of interest to not only the United States but the international community is that the watch-dog underpinnings of the United Nations are once again facing the “right to sovereignty” of the nation violating human rights. In other words, the United Nations' duty to uphold fundamental rights is resounding to a greater extent than before. Considering the conflicts occurring in places such as Syria and China, the U.N. is butting heads yet again with the fact that those nations would be reluctant to heed to the their demands, that violations ought not continue. 

As is evident throughout the course of American history, the demand for a stricter dedication to preserving, providing, or protecting rights has been powerful so long as the demand is supported by many (i.e. the Civil Rights Movement). Therefore, a change in China's politics and treatment of its citizens requires more than just Guangcheng and the Chinese people. A change in this now internationally connected community requires that nations including the United States and those in Europe demand China to strictly adhere to the moral laws outlined in the Declaration of Human Rights. This is not confined to China alone; nations like Syria who are currently killing hundreds of their own citizens will only change if the international community gets involved. This is achievable by raising a sincere interest in the international community and by rallying support for heroes like Guangcheng, who, as Mohatma Gandhi stated, “want to be the change they want to see in the world”.

Do Occupy Protesters Stand a Chance?

posted Feb 24, 2012, 12:36 PM by Golden Knight   [ updated May 4, 2012, 2:26 PM ]

By Andrew Evans 


Each generation is given a historical choice: to unite in opposition to social injustices; or to abandon all attempts of rectifying the present in the midst of greed and disillusionment. We are all familiar with the civil rights movement made famous by its successes in the 1950’s and 60’s. This movement, led so effectively by men such as Martin Luther King, has been a much cited example in cases of social justice. In addition, we are familiar with the series of stand in protests that have come to be known as the “Occupy movement”. While the former has been examined a countless number of times, the latter appears to be a conundrum. Let us compare both movements and see whether the latter has the proper objectives, the vital leadership and the correct plan of action to bring about change.

The civil rights movement had success in attaining its goals due to the precise (and sometimes unyielding) manner in which it demanded them. Beginning with the desegregation of city buses; the movement worked from demand to demand until formerly unimaginable successes, such as the desegregation of schools and equal representation in voting, were achieved. Those who diverged from the current objective were reprimanded or ignored. Even Dr. King was criticized by his peers for speaking out against America’s involvement in Vietnam. In this way, each successive goal was never lost amidst a labyrinth of complaints. The occupy movement fails in this respect. While initially presenting universal calls for financial reform, over time smaller sects became just influential enough to mitigate those fundamental outcries. This movement, in seeking to represent the 99% in the most literal sense, adopted a litany of complaints that lack a clear solution. Whether it will recover from its inability to express a set dogma for its followers, time will tell. For now, no one knows what exactly the movement is asking for. Perhaps the campaign can be resuscitated if it possesses proper leadership and peaceful civil disobedience.

No demonstration can succeed without a charismatic and resourceful leader. The civil rights movement always maintained a strong connection with the great intellectual minds of the day. It was imbued with academic and religious inspiration, and it inspired its members to resist and withstand frightening opposition. I must pose this to you: can you name any leaders of the occupy movement? There is no modern Dr. King, Phillip Randolph, or Roy Wilkins to be found among the protesters. Such men were capable of giving their fellow human beings the determination to weather fire hoses, police dogs, and threats of death- and to emerge victorious. Without leadership, people will be prone to flee, to surrender, or to violence when faced with adversity. The occupy movement lacks direction of a good leader that speaks for its collective will.

With good leadership and an established cause, the civil rights movement began with sit-ins and boycotts- hurting its opponents economically until they yielded. Eventually, the movement gained such strength as to march on Washington, and peacefully demand the basic justices it sought. The occupy movement has yet to evolve beyond the peaceful sit-in phase! Do we boycott corporations like Walmart, Shell, and Fox? Have the protesters urged us to do so, or have they taken pragmatic action as the civil rights movement did in its infancy with the Montgomery Bus Boycotts? The occupy protesters will literally stagnate in the streets, waiting for reforms to be given when nothing has been done to save the inconveniencing of their fellow citizens. A collective purpose is needed if this movement will survive the will of Wallstreet.

The occupy movement has been shown to be lacking in the key ingredients that compose successful social awakenings. Without leaders to rally around, without defined goals to pursue, and without policies devoted to peaceful protest, the occupy movement seems doomed to failure. Unless its members can learn from their more successful predecessors, all of their actions will be at risk of having been done in vain.

American Imperialism: Controversial Involvement in the Salvadorian Civil War

posted Feb 24, 2012, 12:36 PM by Golden Knight   [ updated May 4, 2012, 2:32 PM ]

By Ricardo De La Torre 


The long civil war of El Salvador (1980 – 1992) was not just an internal Salvadorian conflict, but America’s war as well. American involvement in this bloody war is largely controversial and widely unknown. Even as the years go by, the American imperialistic thrust as well as the rhetoric used to hide such actions continues day by day and country by country. 


War officially broke out in 1980; between the military dictatorship in power and the Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN). In the opening year, the U.S. backed Salvadorian Army murdered over 11,895 people including Archbishop Oscar Romero and four American church workers. The killings were usually made because of the suspicion and fear that individuals supported social or economic reform. Mass killings increased in the following year of 1981 with the death of 16,000 unarmed civilians murdered by the government. In some instances entire villages were wiped out by death squads. El Salvador and the U.S. were quick to deny any claims of large scale killings, but the discovery of mass graves validated the claims. The year 1982 brought 8,000 more deaths and the killing of four Dutch journalists. The death squads responsible for many of the killings were supported by the Salvadorian government and wealthy Salvadorian landowners. In 1984 the former U.S. ambassador to El Salvador, Robert E. White, revealed that six of the wealthy Salvadorians who principally funded the death squads were living safely in Miami. The killing of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her daughter in 1989; sparked international awareness that would soon lead to the intervention of the United Nations.


American involvement was initiated by President Carter as he sent 19 advisors and over $5.7 million in aid to the Salvadorian military. Although Carter began it, President Reagan was a stronger supporter of the conflict. Reagan consistently increased military aid to the military dictatorship of El Salvador. At the peak of the war the U.S. was sending El Salvador $1.5 million a day. The financial and militaristic support given by the U.S. to the Salvadorian government prolonged the war; which lead to more deaths and heinous crime.


Reagan’s increase of military aid and military advisors to El Salvador rapidly exceeded what Congress permitted. He surpassed the congressional limit of 55 advisors, and by 1987 there were over 150 military advisors in El Salvador. These U.S. military advisors also supervised the torture of political prisoners at Mariona Prison where over 40 different types of torture were routinely used. The Salvadorian Army, including its 12 year old conscripts, were trained and supervised by Americans. The training of Salvadorians also occurred in the U.S., specifically in Georgia.


American support continued until 1990 when the UN became more involved because of international outcry of the violation of human rights. The deaths of Archbishop Oscar Romero, four American church workers, four Dutch journalists, and six Jesuit priests triggered the most attention around the world. After international awareness, military aid sent to El Salvador by the U.S. became reconstruction aid, with $30-35 million a year. Before peace was reached in 1992, 25% of El Salvador’s population had been displaced. Between President Carter, Reagan, and Bush over the span of 10 years; $7 billion in financial and militaristic aid had been sent over to El Salvador.


The Salvadorian Civil War proved to be costly with innocent lives and full of atrocious crimes. The U.S. supported an unpopular military dictatorship in El Salvador in order to extend its influence. Therefore, by supporting and involving itself in the conflict, America holds responsibility for some of the carnage. Apparently billions of dollars, thousands of innocent lives, the violation of human rights, and the destruction of a country were necessary costs for American imperialism. America’s engagement in foreign conflicts and its overextension upon the world produce a cascade of international strife as well as a negative global opinion toward the nation as a whole.

The Age of Communication

posted Jan 7, 2012, 2:52 AM by Golden Knight   [ updated Jan 19, 2012, 10:02 AM ]

Posted in World

By JD Kieffer


In light of the recent evacuation of Occupy protesters from Los Angeles City Hall, it has become clear that public opinion can be a rather vague and nebulous. “We are the 99%”, the slogan of the movement, seems to be one of the few commonalities of the protestors. In general, they seek increased participation by the general populace in political and economic affairs. They have made this message abundantly clear to police, politicians, and those who they refer to as the “1%”.

The significance of this movement lies in the rapid growth it has experienced over the past two and a half months; related demonstrations have sprung up in over 83 countries! Undoubtedly, social networking plays a huge role in this growth such as IRC, Facebook, Twitter, and MeetUp. In addition to organizing protests, protestors have also used these websites to communicate and share ideas.

After the internet bubble burst at the turn of the 21st century, communication experienced a revolution, rivaling that of the impact of the telegraph and telephone. Now, in 2011, social networking continues to play an integral role in our lives. It is estimated that, by 2015, Facebook will have 800 million users; and if Facebook were to be considered a country, it would be third in the world regarding population.

Because we can count on the growth of contact between different cultures of the world, it is imperative that we begin to understand some of the similarities we, from one culture, have with others from a different culture. It is equally imperative that we discuss important conceptual issues such as our opinions on the definition of democracy. The Occupy movement claims to have taken some inspiration from the Arab Spring revolts; this is clearly evidence that regardless of geographical location, ideas and values spread quickly over the internet. In order to grasp the technology of the “Communication Age” effectively, we must recognize that the world itself is becoming a melting pot and that we all are obligated to contribute our own part to its growth.


posted Nov 27, 2011, 5:45 PM by Golden Knight   [ updated Nov 27, 2011, 5:49 PM ]

By David Yoo


Iran’s nuclear programs are not new. It’s puzzling to see the way people and even politicians have reacted considering they have been developing this technology as far back as the early 1980s. Their advances towards nuclear technology, however, were only fully realized when the Bushehr I reactor was officially opened in a ceremony on 12 September 2011, (essentially declaring to the world that nuclear technology has finally been acquired in Iran). What frightens some is that this acquisition of technology is that Iran is considered what most politicians call “a rogue state” (or a country who has the capacity to disturb world peace). Scaring many is that Mahmoud Ahmedinejad (the current President of Iran) seems to display a capricious personality and a very staunch pro-Iran and anti-Western stance that dominates his view on the world issues. In fact, the sanctions that the U.N. imposed are "annoying flies, like a used tissue” for President Ahmedinejad.

The truth of the matter is that this man is now in possible control of nuclear warheads that may be used for wrong reasons at the wrong people. This deserves such worry, and at heart, terrifies us all. Curtailing such a threat has not and will not come easy. Our current measures to prevent Iran from acquiring further nuclear technology have not hindered Ahmedinejad in the least. Adding to it all is that we are truly uncertain at what the Iranian president is capable of doing with possible weapons of mass destruction and the consequences of using such lethal force. It is for this reason that we need to strengthen our foreign policy measures but in a very prudent manner. Let us not relive the war on Iraq again, and find out (after possibly invading Iran) that they do not, in fact, have weapons to begin with. Neither a pacifist approach nor an all-out declaration for an absolute invasion is the option. The course of action required in this situation requires the balance of the two ideas, and we must not forget that foreign policy is a matter of making intelligent and careful decisions that we will not regret in the future.

I say this only in response to something that startled me while watching the Republican debate, "If we re-elect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon. And if you elect Mitt Romney, Iran will not have a nuclear weapon," said Romney. It is not a black or white option, Mr. Romney. It has become clear that we are no longer in need of a Republican president or a president in general that looks upon the east in such a manner, but one who can appreciate and take hold of a situation far deadlier and distant than the world has ever seen.

Some Thoughts: On Bin Laden's Death

posted May 10, 2011, 6:50 PM by Unknown user

By Chris Ferro

“Did you hear?”

“Where were you when you found out?”

“Can you believe it?”

In the wake of any historical paradigm, these three questions connect one person to another. Such ubiquitous news necessitates the sharing of opinions, information, and ideas about the matter. To older generations, the question most commonly asked was, “Where were you when you heard about Kennedy or MLK?” More recently, the question has followed this template: “Where were you on September 11th? What were you doing?”

Of course, people would answer in a heartbeat, “I was at home with the kids.” “I was at work.” “I was ten thousand feet in the air.” And with every answer, a new human connection was formed, a unification of conscience, an amalgamation of experience. For one day, people knew no distinctions, no race, no gender, and no prejudice. Each recollection permeated through the other and weaved together to create a real, intricate story-web. Distinction lay shattered on the ground and relation rose out of its pieces. One phoenix resembled the centralized human spirit flying high into the horizon of unity.

This represents the power of a single, momentous event and how something catastrophic or liberating can deeply alter the mindset of a group of people for a period of time. The death of Osama Bin Laden encapsulates this sentiment. Within a matter of minutes, every man, woman, and child in America had heard about the operation and subsequent death of Bin Laden. Local news headlines changed from “Local Liquor Store Robbed” to “Bin Laden Killed.” Every media outlet around the world focused their efforts on the “climax of the past ten years.” The Middle East, having already received its fair share of media coverage, became the beacon of light attracting inquisitive eyes everywhere. The man many deemed responsible for the attacks of September 11th, 2001 had finally been vanquished. Public enemy number one: murdered in a fire fight.

The overwhelming sense of American pride which followed the news spread like a virus. People in Washington D.C. and New York City gathered to celebrate what they, and everyone else, had heard. A baseball game between the Mets and Phillies froze. The game was in the ninth inning, one out and one strike on the current batter. 9-1-1.

Surely, 9-1-1 was on the mind of Americans the night of May 1st.  It was certainly on the minds of the families of the victims who died on that fateful day. Not a single soul in America could ignore the magnitude of Bin Laden’s death, not because of him, but because of what he stood for. Leaders can be replaced, but symbols cannot. If what radicals in the Middle East say is true, that a thousand Bin Ladens will rise out of his ashes, then they must possess courage unmatched in any region of the world. Al Qaeda may live, but its figurehead has died. Those willing to replace Bin Laden have to consider the consequences in doing so. Terrorists, you have been warned. There will not be another Osama Bin Laden, and anyone brave enough to proclaim it may suffer the same fate as his predecessor: a gunshot to the head, a bullet in the heart, and a grave at the bottom of the ocean. Terrorists, be my guest.


Some Thoughts: A Day To Remember?

posted May 10, 2011, 6:39 PM by Unknown user

By Christian Romo

In the top of the ninth inning of a Sunday Night Baseball matchup between the Phillies and the Mets, the broadcast was interrupted by broadcaster Dan Shulman for a breaking story. Shulman stared directly into the camera and relayed a breaking feed from his headset. “Osama Bin Laden is dead. Turn to your local ABC affiliate to hear more about the story.”

Within seconds, the news permeated throughout the crowd at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, and what started as uncoordinated patriotic chants from pockets of the ballpark turned into a chorus of nationalistic joy. Announcer Bobby Valentine, certainly not the ideal candidate to guide a national audience of baseball fans through an event of such magnitude, calmly pointed out that this would be a moment that no American will soon forget. It’s even possible that as an American, we will always remember where we were when Osama Bin Laden was killed.

Really? I certainly would like to remember that moment forever, but only because my beloved Mets scrapped out a 2-1 victory against the hated Phillies and their ace Cliff Lee. Upon first learning of Bin Laden’s death, I was slightly stunned, but not nearly moved to the level of an event like September 11th itself. Hearing the hometown crowd shout “USA! USA!” gave me a much bigger sense of nausea than pride. The last time I heard that chant, President George W. Bush was landing on the U.S.S. Lincoln under a “Mission Accomplished” banner in 2003. Before that, it was chanted amongst the smoke and the rubble at Ground Zero hours after the attacks. This particular chant does not evoke the proudest memories in my mind.

To set the record straight, I do believe our world is better without Bin Laden capable of doing harm, but I worry when Americans can only come together in moments of communion when people die. Recently we have seen moments of unity and solidarity in Egypt, Haiti, Tunisia, Japan, and Libya. Some of them have been inspirational uprisings over tyranny, while others have been heart-wrenching responses to natural disasters that have caused devastation the world has never seen. While I’m glad our recent moment of togetherness hasn’t been caused by a devastating event such as Hurricane Katrina, I’m disappointed in the uniqueness of our situation. The entire country is celebrating because someone has been killed.

In his speech to the country, President Obama said the following: “…we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda’s terror: Justice has been done.”

Retribution is not justice; the two should never be confused. I have no doubt that the families of victims terrorized by al Qaeda felt satisfaction when Bin Laden was killed, but in a year when there’s still an empty spot at the dinner table, the thought that Bin Laden’s body is rotted at sea won’t give anyone much comfort. That isn’t to say we shouldn’t celebrate the moment we have been waiting for a decade, but we shouldn’t assume our efforts in the healing process are finished. There are still firefighters and other first responders waiting for healthcare following their heroic struggle in the aftermath of 9/11. There are still children who will never see their mothers and fathers and there are still parents with children sacrificing their lives to ensure the freedoms we take for granted.

There is nothing inherently wrong about flag waving or patriotic slogans, but we need to be careful at which points we choose to implement our nationalism. On the same weekend Bin Laden was killed, over 300 people lost their lives in the South facing the most vicious tornadoes the region has ever seen, yet the top news story of the week was a debate whether President Obama should release pictures of the Navy SEAL’s operation.

Osama Bin Laden is gone, and all of a sudden al Qaeda’s influence in the world dwindled. It’s a moment where we can take some pride, but our national celebrations shouldn’t be dependent on violence and the exercise of our superiority. We are probably safer as a country, but we still have a lesson to learn, and I’m not sure we’re better off right now with Osama dead.

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