Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

April 24, 2013

ABACUS COLUMN: What is the path to freedom from terror?

By Larry Backus
Sun contributor

CROSSVILLE — When did I first become aware of terrorism? I had to check my safety deposit box for my expired passports because my memory is suspect at my age. There were four passports with visa stamps beginning in 1968. My fifth passport was issued in Cumberland County on January 15, 2009 and expires January 14, 2019. I am not taking bets that I will apply for number six. The young lady who issued my new passport said she had never issued a fifth passport before. It is nice to be first, even in expired passports.  

The reason I checked my old passports was to verify the dates of entry and exit to Denmark. An entry date of October 8 and exit date of October 10, 1971 were clearly stamped on my first passport. I visited Denmark that weekend because my planned weekend in Israel was canceled. After working in Alicante, Spain and Florence, Italy I had a weekend before I was required to be in London. I could be in Rome Friday evening by train, catch a plane to Tel Aviv and be in London by Monday morning. At age 31, nothing was impossible. As I packed for my scheduled trip with great anticipation, I received a phone call from one of the airlines, Pan Am via El Al to be specific. It seemed that a terrorist attack had closed all entry into Israel. I enjoyed Denmark; drove around the entire country in one day. Nice people, Copenhagen is great; but it is not the same as Israel to a history buff like myself.

That was my first mild personal encounter with terrorism. In subsequent trips to Europe and the Far East I became accustom to tight security at airports featuring uniformed soldiers and police with submachine guns at alert. I remember hoping and praying that this condition would never cross oceans to the United States. Not only has this insidious malady crossed oceans, it has infected a miscreant rabble of our own citizens.

I cannot comprehend the motivation of a human being to inflict terrible pain and suffering on innocent victims and their loved ones. There is no justification and I pity them, for there is no benefit and no reward; unless one believes evil is its own reward. Our government, secular as it is, will expend billions of dollars and millions of man hours to track down terrorists and bring them to … justice? There is no justice for such acts, and those who inflict such acts of terror can only be redeemed by a loving God. Fat chance, you may say, but do you have a better solution? In fact, a belief in a loving God may be the only answer to what is spreading throughout our world. Jewish faithful believe in a just God who, despite his impatience, has delivered them from evil and bondage. Christians have placed more emphasis on a loving God based on the example of his son Jesus Christ; however, they might also be better Christians if they realized that God has only so much patience. The Muslim faithful are centered on a prophet of the same God as the Jewish and Christian faithful. And yet their faith is under attack by terrorists; they are not alone. It is a troubled and turbulent world. My advice is to be a part of the solution, not part of the problem. That endeavor can begin anywhere including here. Secularism is a positive national policy; it is not a path of universal solution or personal salvation. A personal faith in a loving and just God is a solution that terrorism cannot overcome.