Wednesday, October 3, 2001

Concerned About Evil

I had lunch today with Mike Huben, a former work colleague. He and I hashed out the issues regarding Osama bin Laden, and the events of September 11. He told me "what we should do in the Arab third-world": implement a Marshall Plan. Mike's idea is a way to cut off terrorism at the root: by providing funding to create secular schools so that children aren't left destitute, and susceptible to being funneled into radical fundamentalist groups like Al Qaeda. Just like the United States funded work, housing, and food for Europe after World War II, we could "prop" up the Arab third-world's children, and give them real choices.

(I worried to Mike whether this would involve puppet goverments, exactly the kinds of things that got America into trouble before. And he agreed that this is one of the problems with Arab countries: it's hard to find good non-religious goverment infrastructure in place to receive this plan.)

When I brought up my thoughts on trying to 'negotiate' with Al Qaeda, trying to understand their hatred towards us, he asked me plainly: Could the United States have negotiated with Timothy McVeigh?

There is evil in the world, evil people, people that cannot be rational, people who cannot and will not and do not see 'our side'. Diplomacy with these people is impossible. All we can do is mitigate the effects of these people. And perhaps put in place systems that prevent evil from growing within people.

As a fan of Stephen Covey and Phil McGraw, I know that the only person I can change is me. But I also know as a new parent that the one person I can most influence is my baby. And by extension, the best thing we as a nation can do is raise good children.

I like to think people can change. But I doubt Osama bin Laden will be turning over a new leaf anytime soon. He's committed to perpetrating these vicious acts, so that he can influence and gain followers. We didn't seek to change Mr. McVeigh. We executed him. But we can change our kids. And this seems to me to get at the core problem.

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