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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

'Taking Responsibility' for Terror: If Only...

Published December 30, 2009 9:15 AM by Valerie Newitt
It just galls me that al Qaeda "takes responsibility" for the failed Christmas terror attempt at blowing up an airliner at the Detroit airport. Takes responsibility?

I beg to differ. There's more to taking responsibility than admitting guilt. Taking responsibility does not mean gloating over a mere chance to incinerate hundreds of innocent people. It does not mean admitting wrong-doing, then swearing to do it again.

Taking responsibility carries more heft. It means owning up to a deed, then doing everything in creation to correct the results of that action. Taking responsibility means intellectualizing the tragic aftermath of a murderous misstep and making retributions to those who might have been killed. It means forging bridges of peace and understanding.

Had the explosives detonated as intended in Detroit, the only "responsible" people likely would have been the first responders -- the EMTs, the police officers, the firefighters, the paramedics, the nurses, the doctors -- on the scene to patch up survivors and attempt to minimize a holiday horror. They would have been holding themselves unnecessarily "responsible" for the ones they couldn't save.

Taking responsibility has become a terrorist's way to say, "I did it, and so what? I'll do it again."  It's become an easy way of snatching a little notoriety in a world gone sick with hatred and ill-will.

The first time a terror group truly takes responsibility  -- defined by Webster's as moral, legal or mental accountability -- it will be cause to celebrate.


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