November 16, 2015

Friday, November 14, I was at a board dinner. A colleague approached me and said, “Did you hear about Paris?”

Since that moment, I’ve received emails from friends and colleagues and past clients. People find a moment of privacy with me and hug me and ask me how I am. People ask about my family in France.

Tom and I were in different states working. When we met up yesterday, Sunday, he told me that he’s teared up several times.

Anyone can have more than one home. Home resides in our hearts., just like family does. All of us probably have more than one family, too…our blood family…our chosen friends…the movements and causes we hold dearest.

My friends and family in France are safe, physically. Safe at this time. But who knows about the future. Who knows about my friends and family – or yours – in other countries and cities and…

Terrorism is the new normal.

I don’t believe in “the war on terror.” I don’t believe this is a war. A war has a negotiated peace. Governments wage wars. And it’s actually possible to negotiate with governments. Terrorism isn’t like my dad’s war, WWII. Terrorism isn’t like my first husband’s war, Vietnam.

To me, it’s useless to talk about a “war on terror.” Such a label gives us false hope. Sure, let’s go in and bomb the hell out of ISIS. But men and women will gather together in another corner somewhere else at another moment — and continue the terror.

Terrorism is the shootings on U.S. college and university campuses…

Terrorism is killing a doctor who performs abortions and stalking patients at Planned Parenthood health centers.

Terrorism is the Oklahoma federal building. Terrorism is Kent State and being Black in the U.S. Lynchings in the south and Trayvon Martin and wearing a hoodie if you’re a Black male.

Over and over. On and on. Past. Present. Future.

For the U.S. – a country that hasn’t been in a war zone since the Civil War – we seem particularly shocked. It seems like we’re ignoring our own terrorism.

Stop talking about the war on terror. There won’t be an end. This is police work now. This is society now. Over and over. On and on. Past. Present. Future.

But we can fight terrorism as individuals and communities.

Conscious and conscientious societies work hard to ensure justice and fairness for all. Caring and honorable individuals fight for fair and reasonable systems and processes and institutions and laws. Governments – and the hired and elected individuals therein – demand equity and equality. These individuals don’t tolerate the injustices and absurdities that flourish in the most “civilized” nations like the U.S.

We can choose to continue to struggle for the good and the better and the right. Because it’s the right thing to do. Because such struggle might reduce some terrorism.

But we know that terrorism exists everywhere. And it’s homegrown, not just “foreign.” Yes, homegrown here in the U.S.

We know that we have to live our lives. Not in perpetual fear. Not by absenting ourselves from society. Not by avoiding travel to other countries.

Terrorism is intentionally not a war. Terrorism intentionally invades our lives. That’s the whole point. To keep you and me in our homes…with our own guns…avoiding anyone who looks or talks different… Terrorism wants us afraid of everything and everyone.

I won’t live my life that way. I hope you won’t either.

Tom and I already have our next visit to our other home planned. Our next several visits. We live in the south in France. And yes, we will, of course, return to Paris. She is so extraordinary. Still and forever.

Home. Even with terrorism in the world forever. And no end.



Filed under: Social Commentary

About Simone Joyaux

A consultant specializing in fund development, strategic planning, and board development, Simone P. Joyaux works with all types and sizes of nonprofits, speaks at conferences worldwide, and teaches in the graduate program for philanthropy at Saint Mary’s University, MN. Her books, Keep Your Donors and Strategic Fund Development, are standards in the field.

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