Sunday , January 07, 2018 - 12:00 AM
In these troubling times, it can be hard for us, and especially those who run our country, to know what acts are classified as acts of terrorism.
There are debates going on in our court system and even just in our communities, about whether acts such as the recent shooting in Las Vegas are classified as acts of terrorism. Even among the youth, there seems to be strong opinion about exactly what terrorism is.
Is there a rising threat of terrorism? The truth is, the statistics point to yes.
So what is terrorism? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, terrorism is defined as “the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.” This definition is sweet and simple and remains broad enough to be able to fit a wide range of crimes.
However, it seems that the government has adopted a different definition of terrorism which is something along the lines of this: any act committed by a foreign affiliation for the purpose causing terror. By this definition, a terrorist would have to affiliate with a foreign group specializing in causing terror.
When I gathered opinions on terrorism from students at my school, the DaVinci Academy, one defined terrorism as an act “to cause terror to civilians.” This definition, like the dictionary definition, remains broad and can incorporate several different acts. This definition would even serve to classify the Las Vegas shooting as an act of terrorism.
For another student, terrorism is “an act, any act, that is meant to incite terror.” This student’s definition emphasizes that terrorism is “any act,” regardless of affiliation to any group.
And how do we define patriotism? The dictionary says patriotism is “love for or devotion to one’s country.” Expanding on that, one DaVinci student explains, “Patriotism is having the desire to better your country, to learn about your country, and better build your fellow man.” Another added, “Patriotism is loyalty to your country.”
So, by putting these two definitions together, humans have a responsibility to the rest of mankind and then to their country. Why is patriotism so important in a time of crisis?
“If you understand what you’re fighting for, then you can really make a difference,” one DaVinci Academy student said.
Another student says patriotism is important because “if you do not have loyalty to your country, where do your loyalties lie? It makes people feel connected and gives something to fight for.”
Some people say terrorism is not a threat in the world today. Yet my fellow students disagree; as one said, “There are people out there who do not see it as a problem, but it is a problem because it’s meant to destroy patriotism at its core. We’re meant to band together as one nation and terrorism is meant to separate us.”
According to the United States Department of Defense, the probability of terrorist movement has increased significantly since 9/11. Before the turn of the century, schools used to have air raid drills all the time because there was a fear of being bombed by the Soviets. Now, students hardly know what to do during an air raid because it is a nonissue. The bigger threat is from dangerous intruders.
Dangerous intruders in schools have been classified as terrorists and they are a bigger threat to student safety than fires, earthquakes or any other natural disaster. If a typical student from the Cold War era was asked what a “fallout shelter” is, they will most likely be able to give an accurate response. If a typical student today is asked the same question, the response will most likely be a hesitant guess or a blank look of confusion.
Does anyone outside of public office still know where fallout shelters in Ogden are? A few may know, but many shelter signs have been removed and the rest are either obscured or completely ignored. This is because the government has assured us that air raids and nuclear attacks are not an issue anymore, so no one bothers to look for an available shelter.
The threat of terrorism has increased significantly in 16 years. There are those who say that it is still a minor issue and they are most likely missing the signs. Or another, more hopeful reason, may be that they define terrorism differently. This would be preferable because otherwise they are misinformed — and being misinformed is not a good thing because it only makes you more vulnerable.
The desire to fight terrorism is what brings nations together and binds people closer together as a community.
Kade Combe is a junior at DaVinci Academy. He loves the theater, arts and technology; his favorite subject is history. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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