Wisconsin shooting and its violent echo around the world
It is feeling pretty rough out there: the Wisconsin and Colorado massacres, a civil war in Syria, killings in the Sinai. These violent events call leaders and individuals to acts of moral courage, and to remember what we have in common with each other.
Gun massacres in a Colorado cinema, a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, a border post in Egypt and a crowded church in Nigeria. Suicide bombings in Kabul and Yemen. Civil war pounding the capital and other key cities across Syria.Skip to next paragraph
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It is feeling pretty rough out there.
But let’s not forget the continuum of progress in civilization, or as Martin Luther King Jr. repeated: “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”
While these events reflect vastly disparate causes and contexts, they all point urgently to a need for leaders and individuals to walk along that arc – by showing greater moral courage and compassion in two distinct yet interlacing spheres of thought and action.
The first is policy. The massacres in Colorado and Wisconsin, which unfolded just two weeks apart, elicited empathy from political leaders in the United States and a brief pause in an otherwise personally bitter campaign season, but neither attack has prompted either President Barack Obama or his Republican challenger Mitt Romney to renew a national discussion on guns and violence.
Side-stepping a "third rail" political issue during an election smacks of Obama’s off-handed comment to then-Russin President Dmitry Medvedev in March that “I’ll have more flexibility after the election.” Voters and those directly affected deserve more. Two tragedies in two weeks beg leadership now.
In Egypt, Sunday’s raid on an Israeli border post in the northern Sinai that killed 16 Egyptian soldiers provides an early, difficult test for newly installed President Mohammed Morsi. A leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mr. Morsi is by feather an Islamist. He has already extended his hand to his Hamas counterparts in the Gaza Strip.
But Mr. Morsi is now a head of state – and the Egyptian Sinai, which has sheltered terrorist elements for years. The area is fraught with complexity, posing security sensitivities for Israel and economic links for Palestinians in Gaza.
Morsi has vowed to track down the assailants. But the attack also poses a stark choice between party and geopolitical interests: Withdraw Egypt’s cooperation with the Israeli blockade of Gaza, as he stated he would, or reaffirm a vital peace treaty with Israel at a fragile time for the region. Assisting Palestinians and ensuring security in the region are not mutually exclusive.