The people of both Spain and the U.S. have shown courage


Courage. That's a key word for these days. It needs to be applied in a number of ways. Appeasement of terrorists would be a very bad thing to do. I sincerely hope that not many of the people of Spain who voted out the previous leaders did so in response to terrorists. We can assume there will always be some who either out of a misguided understanding of how to deal with a threat, or out of concern for their own hide, will try appeasement. But I hope it wasn't many. I don't believe it was for a number of reasons. For one, in February of 2002, before the war in Iraq began, over 1 million people took to the streets in Spain to voice their opposition. That's no small event. If that many took to the streets, how many more agreed the war was a bad idea? According to some reports around 90%. How many had mixed feelings about the war, but didn't like their government ignoring the will of such a huge percentage of the population on such an important issue? Should we be surprised then that they were voted out? Add to that the fact that their government tried to shift blame for the terrorists attacks in Madrid to the governments advantage, and it is no surprise they lost. But I hope few of those who voted the old leadership out did so to appease terrorists. That won't work. It seems we need to do three things about terrorism. One, meet the threat. We cannot let people attack us and walk away unchallenged. Two, not let this threat change us anymore than we can help. And three, be smart about what actions we take in the world that may give people cause to hate us. All of these take courage. Not letting the threat change us takes courage. Anyone in Spain who voted out the old leadership just out of fear, failed in their courage. But we've seen such failures here. The Monday after 9/11, when the stock market took a huge nosedive because people who were worried about losing money rushed to be at the head of the line to sell off their stocks, they were not acting with courage. People who put off a trip or didn't go to a public event or didn't make a big purchase they had planned, all had their courage fail, and allowed the terrorists to change us, at least for a while. Our government's knee-jerk reaction trying to tighten down on the bill of rights in an effort to trade off freedom for security, or holding of both U.S. and foreign prisoners indefinitely and without rights, are ways they've let the terrorists change us, and are failures of courage. Likewise if there are things we have done in the world, or are still doing, that give people legitimate grievances with us, if we won't give our own actions a good honest look and admit those mistakes, that too is a failure of courage. Those who have grievances are not justified in resorting to violence, but just the same, we don't need to be foolish in giving reasons for grievance where we don't need to. The people of Spain have been dealing with terrorist actions of Basque separatists for decades. They don't seem to be a people lacking in courage. Neither are we. I can disagree with the war but admire the courage of a Laurie Piestewa to try to defend her group when they were attacked. Whether it's that kind of exceptional courage, or the simple act of openly disagreeing with your government, or the little daily courage of going about our lives without letting terrorism change us, there are lots of ways the people of this country have shown courage. Sometimes our government doesn't keep up with us. This may be a case where the people need to lead and the leaders will follow. But I don't think the people of Spain had a failure of courage. On the contrary, they exhibited democracy at its best, exorcising the small courage of the ballot box to tell leadership they disagreed with it was time to let someone else take the helm.