Just the other day I was asked to consider joining the board of directors of a non-profit that is doing amazing work keeping women from being trafficked in Third-World countries. Here was my response to their e-mail: “I have promised my team that I will not sit on any new boards. I am spread way too thin, but if it were up to me…”
And, then a few days later someone wanted to get together over the Thanksgiving weekend, and I said, “Sarah (my fabulous daughter, whom I am not allowed to write about) is only here for the weekend, and we have so many things planned; we can’t fit it in. I wish I could.”
Then there was the time I told my sorority from college that I couldn’t give a contribution because H2 (husband #2, great guy) and I had agreed to restrict our giving to things of interest to us both; this was such a lie—his alma mater, Princeton, received a gift from us every year.
My point here—which is clearly taking me way too long to make—is that we often do things in the name of others, and usually because we don’t want to take responsibility for the behavior ourselves. Okay, I will change from the third person to the first person. I do things in the name of others so I don’t have to take the hit myself. Who’s with me?
So, then I read an article in Politico about the couple who carried out the San Bernardino shooting, and the article contained the following quotation from a practicing Muslim:
“It shouldn’t happen,” he told NBC. “Something like this doesn’t relate to my religion. I am Muslim. I’m a good person. And there’s a lot of good Muslims there. He was a bad person; that was his personal act.”
And it hit me. Personal act. We are not allowed to shirk our responsibilities for thoughts or actions or beliefs by using “in the name of.” No more in the name of ISIS. No more in the name of my fellow workers. No more in the name of anyone other than ourselves. “It was his personal act.”
There were two people in San Bernardino who were very angry at things they perceived as being one way and others perceived as being another way, and they went in and killed fourteen innocent people who had nothing to do with anything they believed or cared about. And as the man quoted in that Politico article so brilliantly stated, “this was his personal act.”
So stop being enraged when you hear the word Muslim; Muslims are as strong in good things as Christians are. Let’s look at individuals and judge them on their individual acts. These people invoke “in the name of” the same way we all do—as a way to not take responsibility for their personal choices. Each and every terrorist act is a personal choice made by the person who commits it. Each and every one.
It saddens me that too many individuals are now making these obscene choices. Henceforth, I intend to stop invoking “in the name of” in order to come up with lame excuses to shirk my paltry responsibilities. I will own my own actions and decisions and I will start looking at these acts of violence with the same certainty that on that day last week, those two individuals, planned their day the way they wanted to.