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Making sense of it all

"A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind, and won’t change the subject" – Winston Churchill The allied war machine, a little rusty, is turning once again, this time in an attempt to rid the world of terrorism – loosel

"A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind, and won’t change the subject" – Winston Churchill

The allied war machine, a little rusty, is turning once again, this time in an attempt to rid the world of terrorism – loosely defined by my Oxford Dictionary as "organized violence to achieve political ends."

I would add "and religious ends" to that definition, and probably broaden the term "violence" to include murder, mass murder, and genocide.

I would include the idea that terrorism is often aimed at innocent civilians and symbolic institutions as well as the military and government.

Understanding the concept, however, does little to help us comprehend the who, the what, the why and the how of what took place on Sept. 11, 2001. And comprehend we must if we ever want to put an end to terrorism and put these dark times behind us.

As usual, the Web is a good place to start.

This is the Web site for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a good place to learn about Islam and Muslims in general – the backlash against this community has been nothing short of extreme since the attack. Two Muslim’s were shot and killed in the U.S., a Hamilton, Ontario, Mosque was burned to the ground, and Islamic communities throughout North America have been targets of violence and vandalism.

The only thing that the Muslim community at large is guilty of is bad P.R.. At home we associate Islam with Malcolm X, Louis Farrakan, Iron Mike Tyson. On the world stage, we associate Islam with Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Colonel Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi in Libya, the Hammas and Islamic Jihad groups in Israel, the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, massacres in Algeria, Egypt, India and the Middle East, the brutal Taliban regime in Afghanistan, a previous bombing of the World Trade Center, groups of Palestinians celebrating Sept. 11, and Osama bin Laden.

Just as the teachings of the Bible were perverted to justify the crusades and the inquisition, so have the teachings of the Koran been perverted to justify terrorism and the making of martyrs.

There are hundreds of millions of Muslims on the planet, and the vast majority are peaceful and condemn whoever was responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks. To believe all Muslim’s or Arab-Canadians are in cahoots with the terrorists is nothing short of ignorance.

The MidEast Web is an attempt to start a dialogue and create a lasting peace and understanding between the divergent faiths and cultures in a region that has been at war for thousands of years.

You can trace the events that lead up to Sept. 11 back to the 1930s when England and the U.S., the superpowers of the day, attempted to bring some kind of peace and order to the region to secure the oil they needed to fuel progress.

There are maps, essays, historical accounts, and profiles of leaders like Osama bin Laden.

If you want to understand why these people hate the West enough to kill themselves and thousands of others, you have to go back a few years. The section on "Who is Osama bin Laden?" is particularly interesting, and includes his published letters, essays and manifestoes.

"Those youths know that their rewards in fighting you, the USA, is double their rewards in fighting some one else not from the people of the book. They have no intention except to enter paradise by killing you. An infidel, and enemy of God like you, cannot be in the same hell with his righteous executioner," wrote bin Laden. And he meant it. , , , , , , , ,

It almost doesn’t matter where you go for news these days. The coverage of this tragedy has been excellent from the beginning, not just in reporting the events as they take place but in providing context to go with them.

Editors and columnists in this are going beyond themselves to produce some first class essays, and are obviously doing their research.

You also have to credit governments and agencies for being open throughout this ordeal, sharing with the public in real time without attempting to spin, censor, or otherwise script the information getting out.

With the U.S. preparing for war, and American allies like Canada following suit, the story is far from over.

A continent away, we can only do small things to help the victims, like donate our money or blood, and keep the economy moving – anything to assuage our feelings of helplessness. But when all is said in done, the most that most of us can do is watch. And learn. ,

As I mentioned, there are a few small things we can do to help.

As always the Red Cross will be on the front lines offering material support, moral support and even financial support to survivors and the families of the victims. You can make a donation to this group online and receive a tax credit.

The Canadian Blood Services, once part of the Red Cross until a separate entity was created in the wake of the tainted blood scandal, collects, monitors and distributes Canada’s blood supply. There’s never enough it seems, even without a tragedy.

The mobile blood collection service doesn’t come to Whistler so locals will have to visit a donation centre in Vancouver to make a contribution.

I know I’ve already made a reference to CNN, but there’s a special section on the site that will bring this tragedy home.

Like many others I’ve talked to, it’s taking a while for the immensity of this situation to sink in for me. I’ve heard the stories, seen the footage, had long conversations about what it means, but it took a while to wrap my head around the idea that over 5,000 individuals are dead or missing. In a world where the news is always bad and violence is synonymous with entertainment, it’s easy to become hardened, desensitized, and cynical.

Because hope is never a waste of time, CNN has created an online forum where friends and family can post photos and personal information on those missing people.

Although it’s difficult, spend 10 minutes going through the galleries. You’ll see that the victims are real loved, and are already missed. Nobody’s so desensitized that they won’t be able to see that.