Platte County may not be a national or international focal point in the war or terror, but we are all soldiers in some manner. The new connectedness found in news, digital media and the world economy makes it so. Disruption of civilized society is the terrorists’ goal. Murder and hatred are their tools.
Our military and law enforcement are one of our shields, but we also must wield tolerance, understanding and cultural bridge building as extinguishers of evil.
I’ve wondered since the attacks in Paris about the wheels that turn locally, quietly, behind the scenes. I would bet that those who work security at the Kansas City International Airport went on special alert. Not that our town and airport is a prime target but because of the randomness of a war with no front lines. Radios, cell phones and computer screens crackle everywhere at key infrastructure places, an unseen but real shiver.
Our law enforcement personnel of all uniforms likely watched the Paris news coverage and pondered their own training in how to handle an active shooter situation. There are prayers going skyward that they never have to put that training into use.
I keep thinking about Fort Leavenworth and those who work there or who are taking training there.
Certainly, some have a role in plans now or future for the fight against ISIS and terrorists of all stripes around the world.
Centuries upon centuries of history led to Paris and all the acts of brutality and savagery that have occurred around the world. That we cannot change.
The future is another matter — in that we all play a role. It might be small, but it is a role.
Parents are on the front line. They must explain to children raised on Disney movies with happy endings that sometimes in real life tragedy occurs, tragedies that make no sense in homes where protective love rules.
But somehow parents must keep optimistic trust in a loving world alive in our children. They must not grow up with the cynical, apocalyptic hopelessness, a condition that helps give rise to an ISIS.
The teachers in our schools feel the ripple from Paris.
The politics, history and terror have been there all along in recent years, but suddenly in a place like Paris that seems not so much unlike our town, the horror seems more starkly immediate.
An American band was playing in a music hall ravaged by gunfire. The issues are so complex.
Teachers are faced with the task of enabling students to think not just about the emotions, but also the facts and background of why this has happened, and what they can do to make the world a better place. And faith plays a role.
Will religions help build bridges between faiths, while allowing diverse beliefs, rather than reinforcing walls? The web of goodness that keeps this world moving forward despite bloodshed in Paris is built one person, one congregation, one faith at a time. We are bound together by more than just a world-wide digital web.
One of the wonderful things about living in Middle America, flyover country, is that people are generally polite. Total strangers hold the door open for each other at the post office. Car drivers let other motorists edge into their lane in rush hour traffic.
Part of that politeness is easy because we are all so much alike.
The future is going to ask us to extend politeness to greater cultural diversity. The world is on the move. May we never know terrorism in our community, but may we also be instruments for peace in our corner of the world.
Bill Graham, who lives in the Platte City area, may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.