Derrick Ashong
Photo: A. Khoshnam
I can't help but reflect on just how far our country has come since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught us the power of peace to stoke the fires of our greater humanity. It can be difficult at a time when our nation is avowedly "at war" with extremists to put that lesson in perspective. After all, what role does the principle of peace play when some people are willing to blow themselves up to make a political statement?

I was discussing this question the other day with a friend, and we naturally came to the recent episode on Northwest Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit in which a young Nigerian man, who will forever live in infamy as the Underwear Bomber, attempted to ignite an explosive device attached to his undergarments.

I can't say I know what kind of hatred or anger motivates someone to take such an action. I do know that in parts of the world the tactics of global terrorism have been justified as an appropriate response to oppression. While there are real and legitimate reasons many in the Islamic world feel alienated from the West, the reality is the majority of people in both the Islamic and Western worlds disagree with the actions and philosophy of radical Islamists, particularly those who trade in human lives for political gain.

Most people of every culture and creed would prefer to live and thrive rather than see others die. As a person who grew up in both the West and the Islamic world, I can say with comfort that the value and sanctity of human life is indeed a shared belief, despite any punditry to the contrary. The issue facing us today is not whether we share a common belief in the value of a human life; the question is whether we recognize that commonality.

Derrick says nonviolence is the answer

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