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Faith in Focus: Tough on terrorism.

Byline: Rev Ian Tutton

IN our house, we are the modern-day equivalent of Jack Sprat and his wife.

One of us is afraid of flying and the other is afraid of travelling by sea. If it weren't for the Channel Tunnel, where would we go on holiday?

Every one of us is afraid of something or other.

We are currently living through a time when the terrorist threat is very much at the heart of things. We can never know precisely when or where the terrorists will strike, we can only be made aware of what they might do.

The awful consequences of high-profile terrorist attacks serve their purpose. Not only do the actual atrocities claim many victims, they also strike terror into us.

Things about which we would not normally give a second thought preoccupy our minds to such an extent that it's as if we become different people as a result.

This is the real impact of terrorism, causing large sections of the population to be terrified of what might happen next. Terrorist attacks need only be few and far between.

Provided they are both high profile and unpredictable, that will be enough.

The only way to defeat the terrorist is to refuse to be terrified. In order to do that, we have to find within ourselves something that is stronger than fear.

We need to find the courage to confront the would-be terrorist, whoever it might be who would threaten us, or terrorise us.

This confrontation does not have to be physical. We are talking not so much about fighting a war as engaging in a battle of wills. The only way to finally remove the terrorist threat is to convince the terrorist that there is nothing to be gained by acts of terrorism because we are not afraid.

When the present Government came to power, one of its slogans was, ``tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime''.

That sentiment can be applied with equal force to terrorism.

There is a need to be ``tough on terrorism, and tough on the causes of terrorism''.

The toughness required is a mental toughness, a moral courage that demands that, regardless of the consequences, terrorism will never triumph.

As for the source of that courage, one New Testament author, reflecting on the impact of the life and death of Jesus, remarked that ``perfect love casts out fear''. Jesus confronted both the forces of state terrorism, and those underlying forces of evil that cause us to be terrified.

His death, a judicial execution, a public spectacle, appeared to suggest that he was just another victim.

In claiming that Jesus was raised from the dead, the Christian faith declares that this was not so.

It cost him dear, but he reckoned it was a price worth paying. There may well be a price to pay on behalf of the international community if the forces that terrify us are to be defeated.

It may well cost us dear. The challenge is for us all to realise the power of love, because this is the only currency acceptable when paying the ransom that terror demands of us.

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Title Annotation:Comment
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 23, 2002
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