Extremism – Its not just them.

Sadly, this latest shooting in Ottawa was not event the first act of violence this year. This second shooting in 2014 and third killing of military or RCMP gives me pause.

Even more sadly I don’t believe that anyone can respond to these three incidents with much effect. You just can’t eliminate crazy. Try if you like, but I don’t see how it is possible for someone to evade detection long enough to do something like this. You can, however, reflect on the larger situation and resolve to govern yourself, which is what I’m choosing to do.

I am angry that these men stole the lives of others. I believe that these men are crazy and selfish – just looking to end their own miserable lives. It also makes sense that this “war on terror” should eventually come here. If they can’t win the war on their own turf, why would they not attack us on ours? Especially when we don’t provide them with passports to get the hell out of here?

Of course I’m not saying “send them over there so our guys can shoot them” you dork. Stop thinking it. But out there “they” are getting shot at every day fighting a war we largely just read about, and they have sympathizers too.

As a moderate, I ask myself what a decent response to these acts can be. The people doing these things are being labeled as extremists. I would posit that our governments have been extreme for a long time. Lets face it, we don’t value the lives of “others” the way we value our own, and won’t even sacrifice a small amount of our standard of living so the world can have clean drinking water.

So let’s see how we are extremists.

There have been, essentially, 13 years of uninterrupted war-making in the middle east since 9/11. More than 100,000 CIVILIAN casualties in Iraq from March 2003 to December 2012. 20,000 in Afghanistan. 2,000 in Pakistan. Those are the low estimates. Some are 10 times that number. That’s right, 10 TIMES the number. A million plus. And those do not include military personnel. I would humbly suggest you treat anyone who says otherwise as untrustworthy. 

So, 122,000 to 1,000,000 vs less than 10,000 dead US military and civilians, including our dearly departed from 9/11 – may they be at peace. Napolean would be proud, that is a fantastic and hideous rate of success, depending on which side of the ledger you care for. The percentage of casualties on the US side is as high as 8%, or as low as 1%.

Now, before you protest that numbers rarely tell the whole story please understand that I’ve already learned this lesson. Try this angle: Hamas was firing rockets into Israel every day and getting away with it. Blatant attacks on civilians with little reprisal. They fired 80 – Yes – 80!!!! rockets into Israel on July 7th. On July 8th Israel invaded. Surprised?

Nearly 3000 were launched in July – and they only killed 6 people. Israels defense system must be amazing, and Hamas must feel very powerless right now.

How Israel chose to respond on the outside seems hideous, but so are the rockets which would not stop coming. That part I get – I absolutely and completely do. They had to respond. What choice did they have?

In Gaza during July and August, where it is really hard to get an accurate number, the BBC reports an approximate 12.5% ratio of military targets killed, meaning 12.5% of everyone killed in Gaza in the last few months were actually Hamas militants. Of the nearly 2,000 deaths reported Israel suffered less than a 3% casualty rate, so there was a staggering 87.5% civilian casualty rate. Life was hideous there for civilians, and I don’t know if that changed anything measurably between Hamas and the civilian population, but I can hope.

I have many, many more friends on all sides of these conflicts. They are, for the large part, peace loving people who are looking for a nice life. They are men and women I love and respect dearly and will till the day I die. I understand why they do what they do, mostly, and I’m grateful that they do it. Especially those in the military, who are usually generous and kind to a fault, and willing to pay ultimate sacrifices in wars they may or may not understand.

But I really think this comes down to do unto others. It really is that simple, and it is the central teaching of two religions – Christianity and Judaism – that have fallen out of favor in the West. If we can’t stop killing civilians in the middle east, then lets not pretend that they won’t try to do the same to us.

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