Heavy thoughts tonight, but I have no choice but to think them.
It's been said in multiple circles now that ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh's tactic is to incite hatred against itself and by proxy others easily confused with it — in short, to polarize.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was of the belief that loving one's enemies, not giving into the temptation to despise them, would have a transformative effect on both the enemy and the victim.
This is hard stuff to swallow today, when the enemy in question is hellbent on not letting us treat them like fellow human beings. If they want the gun and the bomb and the swift knife in the dark, why not give it to them? Will it be any comfort to those who stood over those gunned down if we say "No, let's find another way", instead of rooting out their nests, severing their supply lines, crippling where we can their capacity to make terror?
I know full well many of those grieving for the dead want nothing more than to see all those who had complicity for the attacks in Paris found and brought to justice — or, failing that, killed in their tracks. I am not about to tell them the way of love is better, because they would rather keep their love for the people that matter and not waste it trying to appeal to those who want nothing but martyrdom.
But there is one sense in which King is absolutely correct: hating someone dehumanizes you as much as it does the one hated. It is not that it is wrong to grieve for those we have lost, or to want justice for their deaths. It's that we shouldn't also take refuge in the need to see everyone else as a potential enemy, and therefore a potential source for a feeling of justice by way of punishing them.
If an individual person chooses to reach out to someone believed to be incorrigible with a message of love, I won't stand in their way. I wish them the best of luck; the hopeless idealist in me thinks the world needs more such hopeless idealists. But let us start by not becoming our own worst enemies.