Last week saw another in a series of horrors perpetrated by terrorists. The pain of the young lives lost is almost unbearable. Whether it is in Manchester, England, Paris, France or lower Manhattan matters not. These terrorists strike at the heart of humanity.
The temptation is to withdraw, hide behind walls, stay in the security of our own homes. Alternatively, we could insist that our governments do more to protect us. We could insist they hand-search everyone coming into concerts. We could have armed officers at every corner. We could turn our societies into police states. At least then we would be safe.
But at what cost? They are called "terrorists" for a reason. They are not soldiers, they are not assassins, they are terrorists. Their goal is to make us afraid. When we live life in fear, looking over our shoulders constantly when we venture out, they achieve their goal. We cannot sacrifice our way of life because of these cowards who prey on our freedom. We cannot let them win.
A free society comes with risk. We cannot completely secure our streets without changing the way of life that is so dear to us. We cannot completely secure the borders of our country without changing the essence of what our nation stands for in this world. Stamping out crime is easy. In Saudi Arabia, where someone caught stealing loses their hand, there is very little theft. In countries where someone possessing drugs is executed, there is little drug trafficking. Do we want that for our country? We strive for the balance of obtaining security without sacrificing our freedom. But like any balancing act, occasionally, you are going to fall. That doesn't make the effort of balancing any less valuable.
So what is the answer? We have to live life to the fullest every day, because tomorrow is not promised. We have to live our lives without fear, because fear is debilitating. We have to love one another and reject the hatred that fills the souls of these people who perpetrate these acts of terror. As Martin Luther King Jr. taught, hatred cannot defeat hatred. Only love can defeat hatred. Darkness cannot defeat darkness. Only light can defeat darkness. So let's live every day in the light of freedom. Let's live every day with love in our hearts. And in that way, the terrorists will never win.