The Aspect of Soccer at which the U.S. is Beating Everyone Else

The American football community – and that is the football played worldwide using the feet, the one with a World Cup and no Super Bowl – is often the butt of many jokes.

We call the game soccer, for starters. Our league cannot compare to the best in the world, even if our commentators and pundits sometimes like to think otherwise. Hell, the MLS used to take penalties from halfway, something which always seems to be revived on social media every few months.

Yes, we’re different in many ways. But sometimes that difference is far and away for the best.

I’m talking about the name of our men’s national team. USMNT: United States Men’s National Team.

It may seem quite uninteresting at first, but let me now relay the name of our women’s national team. USWNT: United States Women’s National Team.

Did you catch it? Let me, just for contrast, share you the names of England’s men’s and women’s teams.

Men’s: England National Football Team. Women’s: England National Women’s Football Team.

Get it now?

This is a trend found all over national sports teams, in and out of soccer/football. The men’s team is just the “national team,” and the women’s team requires the “women’s” addendum. Sure, it’s probably a relic from the early days of the sport in the 1800s, when only men played the sport at the highest levels, and there was only one national team, regardless of gender. But now, it implies that, while the men’s team represents all of the nation, the women’s team needs clarifying that no, this isn’t the default (that being the men’s team), this is that other team.

Now, I’m not going to claim that the U.S. has it all figured out. Our top professional leagues are called Major League Soccer (men) and the National Women’s Soccer League (women, duh).

And that’s not even getting into the incredible disparities in pay or media coverage, or the other myriad of ingrained sexism that propagates through sport in general.

These various discriminations are being tackled, but only at an unacceptably slow pace. For example, in July 2017, a professional/semiprofessional football team announced they would pay men and women players the same for the first time (link).

Clearly, there’s so so so much more that needs to be done to bridge the gap between men’s and women’s football, and for that matter, men’s and women’s sport in general.

But at least the U.S. can claim a bit of soccer notoriety.


How to Rewrite La La Land

So I know I’m way behind on the hype and hoopla that followed in the wake of La La Land (hell, the Oscars were months ago now). I don’t know if it was the everyone-is-talking-about-it-so-I’m-staying far-away mentality or just not having the time, but I only got around to seeing Damien Chazelle’s film this morning. I watched it mostly because I had woken up too early and had some time to kill and thought it was something I should get around to eventually. So I settled down with some coffee and turned it on, unsure whether the movie would do all the awards and buzz justice.

And I liked it.

For the most part, that is.

Oh, and now that the analysis is about to start: SPOILERS.

I think the story, the directing, and the acting were all great, and absolutely the soundtrack was phenomenal. The film managed to play with camera angles, leading to some spectacular shots. The dancing in the stars bit from the planetarium was great. The spinning viewpoint during A Lovely Night was wonderful. And the coup de grace was of course the epilogue scene, with all the magical effects and my absolute favorite moment of Mia and Sebastian watching themselves playing with their hypothetical child on an old timey movie screen. In terms of acting, I think Emma Stone deserved her Oscar, and don’t get me started on the male side where Casey Affleck won (though I personally would’ve gone with Viggo Mortensen for his knockout portrayal of Ben Cash in Captain Fantastic).

However, after having finally watched the movie, I’m quite happy it didn’t end up winning Best Picture, Warren Beatty be damned. Like I’ve already said, as to arrest all detestation from what seemed to be most of the Earth’s population, I enjoyed this movie. But I think there are some major changes that should have be made that would have given La La Land a surefire Oscar.

I’ll cut right to the chase: this movie should not have been a musical.

Yes, the soundtrack is fantastic, all plaudits to Justin Hurwitz. Yes, the idea of a 50’s-style musical with jazzy rhythms and peppy dance numbers taking place in modern America sounds charming. But not this movie. Not with these actors. And not, especially, with this story.

First of all, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are not singers. Plain and simple. Movie actors singing in musicals has been tried many times before and, more often than not (looking at you Russell Crowe), it has failed. Like I said before, on acting alone, I think the two leads both produced five star performances. But if you’re going to make a movie musical, you need strong singers. They don’t need the voices of the best that Broadway has to offer, but they need to hold their own, which Stone and Gosling can not. Gene Kelley is exhibit A when it comes to the kind of movie musical-er I’m talking about.

Secondly, and more importantly, the wonderful story that this film tells would work far better outside the package of a musical. There are a number of times in La La Land that would resonate much better if they were not interrupted by a sudden song. I’m going to focus on one in particular: Mia’s audition.

Here, what can be seen as maybe the climax of the movie along with the epilogue, Mia tells the story of her aunt living in Paris. She starts speaking the first line or two, but then falls into a wistful song dedicated to the fools who dream. While this may be Stone’s best moment with respect to singing, how much better would it have been if she delivered this as a straight monologue?

For one, we get a lot of Sebastian’s jazz throughout. But we get next to none of Mia’s acting. This would’ve been the moment. And Emma Stone has the chops to turn this into a truly special cinematic moment. She could transition from a nervous intro about her aunt into a real and deep meditation on what it means to be a fool who dreams. That would carry so much more weight than a song sung by an actor.

Of course, singing should remain, it’s important to the tone of the movie. But do it like Pitch Perfect or any number of movies that have singing only where it would actually happen in reality. Leave the special moments for the A-list actors to kick out of the park.

Now, imagine the epilogue scene exactly as it is, the only difference being the movie you’ve been watching for the better part of two hours was not a musical. You wouldn’t be expecting to be taken out of normalcy into a world of song and dance. And so, when the life that Mia and Sebastian might have lived was suddenly told to you in in the realm of snapping and stage sets, how could you not be moved?

La La Land was good. Undeniable. But it could have been so much better. Instead of a being a recreation of 50’s era movie musicals, it could have been an homage to them instead. It could have been a story told in a snappy tone with jazzy accents, while capturing the best skills of its lead actors. It’s a pity that I can’t go back in time to make these changes. With them, La La Land could’ve been one of my favorites.

Two Parties Give Me Anxiety

When it comes to politics, factions are unavoidable. No matter where you look, bar certain monarchies and dictatorships, parties govern the political game. And not to bash parties, they serve as a means of bringing likeminded people together to support a representative for their ideals. However, there will always be compromises made; no two people will ever agree precisely on every single issue, such is human nature. In a nation of over 300 million people, how can a mere two parties efficiently represent the population?

The two party system in the US is a problem that needs to be solved. Not only does it fail to effectively represent the minds of the nation, but it creates unnecessary classism and ill-content amongst the American people. With only two major parties, much political rhetoric is reserved for attacking the other party’s position, causing useless bickering and infighting. When they should be focusing on accurately embodying the will of the people, candidates are instead creating quotes defacing the opposition’s ability to govern, and slandering the other side for any and everything they can.

Aside from pitting parts of the nation against each other (just look at any map on election night and you’ll see stark borders between supposed red and blue states), the two party system does a terrible job at representing the opinions of the people. If there are only two candidates to choose between, voters are left with little choice, and are sometimes forced to vote for the lesser of two evils simply to keep someone else out of office. Much of this is down to the voting system we have in place.

First-past-the-post voting, or FPTP, is an inefficient and unrepresentative way to elect officials. In this system, you can vote for one candidate, and only one candidate. The person who gets the most votes wins. Simplistic, and stupid. CGP Grey excellently outlines the shortcomings of FPTP in a video on his YouTube channel, and explains how a two party system is unavoidable in this case. In another video, he talks about the alternative vote, a still flawed, but wholly more representative way to carry out elections. In this system, voters rank their choices in order of preference, and votes for less popular candidates are divvied up amongst the more popular ones on account of the voters’ rankings. In essence, you can vote first for the party or candidate, regardless of size or popularity, and still keep votes away from disliked options.

While still not perfect, the alternative vote offers a better option than our current FPTP system. It allows people to align their vote closer to their beliefs, without compromising the election and handing support to candidates they dislike. It also allows third parties to gain ground, and (hopefully) could result in a multi-party system. Such a system would give Americans more options, and an easier way to support their own ideals. It would also (ideally) create a more balanced political landscape, leading to more complex discussions between factions and less simplistic vilification. It wouldn’t come close to fixing everything that needs changing, but if anything has been revealed by our current election, it’s that change is indeed necessary.

A Strange Dichotomy

When you’re a child, all you want is to grow up. To be able to sit at the adult table. To be able to go on that ride you’re too short for. To be able to drive. To be able to consider yourself a “big kid,” whatever that is. To not have to listen to what your parents say. Essentially, you want to be independent. To be your own person, make your own decisions, and live your life as you see fit.

This idea, while being the natural progression associated with growing up, changes when you start considering significant others. Suddenly, being accounted for by another doesn’t sound so bad. Neither does making decisions without simply your own input. Instead of being alone in the world going your own way, you start desiring the presence of another in your life. But the idea of individuality remains. In short, you’re kind of stuck.

Why is it that part of us strives for individuality, and another for cooperation and companionship? We seem to have this inherent internal disagreement. Thinking societally doesn’t help either. Part of society tells us to be ourselves, to go into the world our own person and forge our own path. Another part tells us that finding someone and settling down is the way to go. Sure, an argument can be made for keeping these two ideas chronologically separated, to be your own person, free, in your younger years, and leave settling down for later. Sometimes it just isn’t that simple.

This oddity isn’t restricted to relationships. We humans have a tendency to settle into groups. Of course, extroversion/introversion is a spectrum, and we each have our own desires, but in general, we like having friend groups. Part of us may want to follow the same friend group through life, moving to the same city after college, maybe even to the same apartment a la countless sitcoms. Another part may want to move to a strange city, perhaps foreign, and try our hand at something new. We may even want to travel the world, never sticking around one place too long. Why do our desires contradict?

This strange dichotomy seems to be an intrinsic part of life; that we will naturally find ourselves disagreeing within. Perhaps it does follow a more chronological path, and the balance of desires changes over time. Still, I like to think that there will always be a bit of both, that we’ll always have some kind of struggle. In some way, we may always be dissatisfied with what we have, which, to be fair, is a very humanistic trait. If we’re comfortably with another, we may long for a bit of individuality. If we’re alone, we’ll probably crave the company of another. Maybe we’ll find our spot and this will turn into a non-issue. Maybe we’ll always have a bit of a struggle in one way or another. But that’s

On Passion

There are those people in the world who love something; they breathe it, drink it, fight for it, and live for it every day. It can be music (who’d be a starving musician if they didn’t love what they do), it can be math (whenever they have down time, they’re reading about Euclid or topology or something of the sort), it can really be anything. These people live for their subject. They do it. They love it. You can see these people standing in line for auditions on Broadway, working 80 hours a week on campaigns, and searching deep into the night for a scientific breakthrough. These people do great things. They fight for their passion.

But what is passion? Why do some people have it, and others don’t or have too many passions. Why can some people, without a second thought, throw all their eggs into one basket, and someone else not know what to do with theirs? How does passion manifest itself? And where?

When you think of those singularly driven individuals, you can try to define passion as a strong enthusiasm or desire to be involved with, surrounded by, or enveloped in a certain topic or subject. They love government and politics, and, while it’s hard work, can’t get enough of the campaign scene. They love music, and can’t imagine themselves doing anything else, even if they’re working a job or two on the side to make ends meet. For them, they have blinders on, in some sense. When it comes with what to do, they only have eyes on their passion.

That’s not to say the people that aren’t in this sort of situation don’t have passion, they can be passionate about many things. They can love subjects and truly enjoy doing things related to them. They cannot, however, singularly focus themselves on one of them, and push themselves towards that and only that. Unfortunately, this can leave them in a bit of a pickle, primarily with the whole “what do with one’s life” business.

If there isn’t one thing you’re passionate about, how can you go off and push yourself with the same gusto and vigor that others, the driven folk, can? It proves a real challenge, one not easily confronted. Ultimately you’ll probably end up having to choose one passion, and go for that, even if that’s a somewhat dissatisfying plan of action. Because the other passions may push themselves above the other one, and you may struggle with staying with the one you chose. Is this the right course of action?

Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. In a perfect world, you’d find the one thing that combines all your passions, each included in some way big or small, and do that. And one should always have faith that there exists something out there that’s perfect for them. There is certainly enough uniqueness in the world for that. The best thing to do is probably just go out there. Pick a job that sounds interesting. If you don’t like it, find another. Eventually you’ll find your niche. Eventually your passion will find you.

Soccer Has Come

A pastime devised by our former colonial rulers in the 1800s, soccer is undoubtedly the world’s sport. The World Cup is the most watched sporting event on the planet, and even club competitions such as the Premier League and Champions League garner more attention worldwide than perhaps any others. While the majority of Earth’s human population has been infatuated by this competition for well over a century, as many know, America hasn’t. Over the last hundred-plus years, sports such as football, baseball, basketball, and hockey have dominated the minds of the nation. Today, though, the US’s sporting landscape is changing quickly. Soccer is no longer a backwater sport, clinging to small audiences still in love from playing as eight-year-olds. Premier league, La Liga, and Bundesliga jerseys are dotting the land, and MLS’s attendances are quickly climbing. And come the World Cup (women’s or men’s), the American Outlaws gather nationwide to try and push the US to victory.

Soccer has always faced a difficult task breaking into the mainstream attention of American sports fans. Basketball, baseball, and football all have origin stories in the states. Coincidentally (probably not) these represent the traditional three biggest leagues: the NBA, NFL, and MLB. Soccer, on the other hand, comes from across the pond. Far and away the biggest in the UK and Europe (with a few one-off exceptions), the sport was only ever a pastime of the American youth. Strangely, few sports in America have as much participation as soccer. There are youth rec leagues across the nation, and more often than not a random person you see will have played in one at some point. Ask that person if they still play, however, and you’ll likely get an answer other than yes.

Something that has stuck with me since an early age, as a diehard fan and current competitive player of the sport, is the disparity in the commonplace of soccer among youth in America. While the sport is played across the country, until recently, you’d have been hard done by to locate a couple kids walking down the street kicking a soccer ball around. This activity is a regularity in countries around the globe, but instead is replaced by basketballs, footballs, and baseballs in America (generally thrown, though, and less so kicked). Even though I’ve never played any of those three sports in any sort of competitive environment, I know how to shoot/throw/hit those objects as well as any average person. Give a soccer ball to a random person on the street, and they could well be made to look a bit of a fool.

While most my life I’ve had a rather downtrodden view of soccer, assuming the sport I love would never reach mainstream public attention, a recent trip to NYC has changed that. Yes, over the past six years the sport has been visibly growing in the US: television audiences have grown, the MLS has attracted bigger names, and every Premier League and Champions League, World Cup, European Championship, and Gold Cup match can be viewed via major television networks, the culture of soccer has flourished now too. In Brooklyn, right across the river from Wall Street, a huge open-air soccer complex lay on water’s edge, filled with people of all ages having a kickabout. With and expanded European Championship and Copa America Centenaro (a special tournament consisting of teams from North, Central, South America, and the Caribbean) providing up to five games a day, every bar or restaurant with a TV had a match on. Soccer jerseys outnumbered their football, baseball, and basketball counterparts. And children ran through the streets and parks joyously kicking soccer balls, honing their skills in an activity masked by joy.

Soccer still isn’t America’s number one sport, and MLS is by no means America’s number one league (the Premier League has more American viewers than MLS by all accounts). Yet soccer has come. People know the sport. They know the players. They watch the games. They play FIFA on PlayStation and Xbox. No longer is soccer something people only briefly flirt with as kids. No longer is it something to be scoffed at by football, basketball, baseball, and hockey fans. Soccer is the world’s sport, a song sung by billions, a chorus now joined by American voices, passionate and proud.

Your Opinion Isn’t Right

The presidential race is becoming increasingly embroiled in aggression, scapegoating, and general malcontent between ever separating factions. In such a time, the faults and frailties of modern political discourse fall out at alarming regularity. Found in both the rhetoric of the candidates themselves and the countless debates held between their millions of supporters, the inability for Americans to deliberate their differing beliefs is shocking. So often this shortcoming stems from one key source: the misunderstanding of opinion versus fact.

Merriam-Webster defines an opinion as “a belief, judgment, or way of thinking about something: what someone thinks about a particular thing.” While not obvious at first, the crucial piece of information to be gained from this definition is: an opinion is not fact. An opinion is as right just as it is wrong. Do you support increased gun regulations or are you against that? Either way, you’d be neither right nor wrong. Because that is your opinion. The duty of every civilized person is to recognize that, and then proceed appropriately, engaging in quality discussions. Alas, how little this is reality.

Often the phrase “you are entitled to your wrong opinion” is tossed around. Oh how wrong (yes, wrong!) those who choose to say this are. By definition. It’s this mindset that hinders political discourse so effectively. When it comes to politics, it is essential for people to disagree, and to debate with those who don’t share their same beliefs. That’s fundamentally what politics is all about. However, the incredibly close-minded attitude that all opinions aren’t created equal causes politics to come crashing down.

People will disagree, that is human nature. People will have any number of opinions, and they may or may not align with a random other’s. Two people may find themselves in a bar, café, school, wherever, and begin a conversation on their differing points of view. If they respect each other, and entertain their opinions and beliefs as valid and, by definition, neither right nor wrong, then healthy political discourse can happily take place. As citizens of the world (for this issue of misinterpreting the definition of opinion is not at all limited to the United States), it is our duty to thoroughly grasp what opinions are, and how productive conversations that form around contrasting ideas can really be.

We’re All Made of Fiction

We all love a good story. Be it film, TV, or literature, we as humans so often envelop ourselves into worlds populated by all sorts of characters doing all sorts of things. So often the stories that captivate us the most involve characters we can relate to, ones that represent some form of our own being. And while everyone is bound to like certain works of fiction and certain characters more than others, anyone can find themselves in any fictional character in one way or another.

The easiest way to represent this phenomenon is by looking at groups of characters that all hold something that we relate to. Look at the sitcom Friends. Sure, we may all think that we’re a Chandler, or Monica, or Joey, but there’s no way that anyone is solely comparable to just one of them. While someone may be childish and loving like Joey, they could also be very neat like Monica, and a free spirited eccentric like Phoebe. People are incredibly complex, and the combinations are infinite, barring any parallel universes that may or may not exist.

This idea is not at all limited to Friends, it can be found everywhere. You may have traits of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. You may look at yourself as predominately relatable to Ron Weasley, but also see much of yourself in Luna Lovegood. Of course this is only looking at one work at a time. Each movie you see or book you read, you can go through this process again and again, each time finding more representations of yourself. And then there are all the Buzzfeed quizzes that try to label you, based on a few simple questions, as a certain character, or even real-life person. You can take the same quiz again and again and get different answers, all the more showing how no one fits one mold.

Of course this doesn’t imply that real people are just an amalgam of countless fictional characters, but that these limited fictional characters (limited because how much can really be said about anyone in a two hour movie, or even a 400 page book) are boiled-down representations of actual individuals. The complexity of humans is immense, unfathomable at times. And while it can be comforting, enjoyable, and helpful to relate oneself to fictional characters, it will only ever be an approximation. The fact that no one can be perfectly represented by a character attests to how unique each and every person that lives and has lived on this planet really is.

What’s in a Dream Job?

Seemingly from the day you’re born, you’re constantly peppered with the question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” As a child, that question is easy to answer, because you can say pretty much whatever you want, however unrealistic it might be, and it won’t have any sort of lasting impact on your life. If you say you want to be president, then that’s great. If you say you want to be a chef, wonderful. A race car driver? Great! However, as you get older, and the realities of that question begin to weed their way into your very soul, it becomes an incredibly exasperating query to consider.

The problem with being asked virtually your entire life about what you want to do is that it becomes something that is rather romanticized beyond its actualities. With people always advising you to “do what you like to do” and “follow your dreams/passion,” you can quickly reach an impasse when you genuinely don’t know what it is you’d like to spend your life doing. Some people find their passion easily, maybe even knowing it from a young age. Those people can dedicate themselves to a single goal, and put every ounce of their being towards achieving it Therefore they can find success. Even if, in the end, they don’t accomplish it, they can’t be faulted for chasing their dreams.

But what if you don’t have a dream? Or what if you have a lot of dreams, all unrelated, and all equally interesting? What then? You could pursue the thing that you’re best at, since that would probably give you the best chance at success. Yet it’s often the case that the thing you may be best at isn’t really what you want to be building your life around. While it may be your best bet at success (here success is most easily defined as being better than the largest percentage of people), it might well not be your best bet at happiness.

The problem with the notion of a dream job is that so often that dream job is unrealistic, or seen as unreasonable to have as a dream job. Sure, the scientist who dreams of curing cancer or unifying the fundamental forces probably won’t, they will still likely contribute to the greater scientific community, and perhaps make important breakthroughs in other, related topics. Or the non-profit owner who strives to assist as many of the less fortunate as they can. They may not fix world hunger, but they will positively affect the lives of others, likely saving lives. These dreams can be commended, since they will still lead to something of benefit. But what if you don’t have that?

There are those, like myself, who have interests across the board, without any rising high enough above the rest to be considered a singular passion or focus. For these people, it can be difficult to decide what to do. In today’s society, you’re essentially forced into choosing an area of expertise, usually coming in the form of a college major. Yet that major may not be what you want to go into, because any major might not be what you want to go into. Physics can be as equally intriguing as government or history or geology, but you can’t do everything. You have to choose. And that choosing can leave you stuck.

For people who don’t have a clear dream job, as it’s often thought of, it can then be extremely disheartening when faced with the question of what to do with your life. For these people, they probably have something they might love doing, but it falls outside of an academic discipline or even a well-defined career. Therefore, it’s often considered unrealistic, or not shooting for the stars, or simply not lucrative enough. Here’s the huge contradiction:  with everyone telling to work towards your dream job, you’re subsequently being forced to choose a major and keep specializing as time goes on. You can then quickly find yourself getting stuck going to down a path that you’re not genuinely passionate about. What then?

I don’t know. Clearly. It can be mind-numbingly frustrating to be in this situation. Maybe you have an idea of what your dream lifestyle would be like (because let’s be real, it’s not all about careers, it’s about the whole package – family, friends, location, etc. – that goes with it), but that isn’t considered what a dream job should be. Alan Watts argues in one of his famous quotes (often recognized from its opening line “What do you desire?”) that you should forget about money, and become a master in what you love, and that eventually you will be able to support yourself with it. If you don’t have one thing you love, however, or that thing might be considered unrealistic, what do you do then? It’s a monumentally difficult question to answer, and something that can’t be ascertained on a whim. But maybe Alan is on to something: maybe you should give that “dream” a chance.

Terrorism Isn’t Evil

WARNING: Controversial stuff to follow. But nowadays,  what isn’t?

Terrorism: one of the defining issues of modern times. While being a tactic used for much longer than many are aware of, it has come to a global focus in the past few decades. With it has come unfathomable amounts of controversy, anger, death, and fear. Because terrorism is BAD. Let it be understood that I DO NOT like terrorism. It’s bad. Very bad. It’s the intentional use of violence, often resulting in death, to initiate fear in a population for the advancement of political goals. But it isn’t evil.

To fully explain my point of view, I must first define my stance on the idea of evil. Others may disagree with me, but I am of the belief that no one is evil. We are all programmed like animals, and everything we humans do is because we deem it the right thing to do on some level. This discussion could go the way of evil in the abstract, but I’m not too well versed in philosophy, so I’ll stick to the idea that terrorism isn’t evil. It’s something I am quite passionate about.

Looking at the definition of terrorism, reworded from the definitions found on various online dictionaries such as Miriam-Webster, should prove enough convincing that terrorism isn’t evil. Its goal is to insight political change. It may be a cruel, cruel way to do so, but you don’t classify those who desire political change to be evil. Of course, political change isn’t brought about through violence and fear, all of it is done through respectful discussions between informed individuals, right? Oh. War.

War is terrible. It’s the intentional large-scale use of violence for political reasons. Of course, it is different from terrorism in a few key areas. One: it (ideally) involves only the lives of those soldiers who consciously commit themselves to the cause. Two: it generally involves the consent (a term used loosely) to go to war by all parties. Three: it’s considered noble, brave, and exists in the platforms of many politicians. People use these reasons, particularly the first two, in the defense of war and the condemnation of terrorism. However, they do not provide an accurate assessment of the reality of the situation.

Can we consider war and terrorism completely separate entities when war has existed in such similar situations as terrorism? Was the bombing of London by the Nazis during WWII not terrorism? Was the bombing of Japan by the USA during WWII not terrorism? Was the use of Agent Orange and other careless practices during the Vietnam War not akin to terrorism? What about the intentional invasions of the various wars in Iraq? Did they not carry some similarities? And what about the bombings of ISIS instalments taking place today? They may be targeted at the members of the organization, but that doesn’t describe the reality of who is actually being affected.

As a society in general, we place this implicit barrier between terrorism and war, but they shouldn’t be thought of as being fundamentally different. Sure, those living in nations with the resources to have large standing armies may see terrorism as something very strange and unjust, but that’s ignoring the other side’s situation. Terrorism is utilized by states, organizations, and groups that cannot participate in direct war with those they have conflicts with. For them, terrorism is the only way they can attempt to fight and protect what they believe in. To be clear, peaceful diplomacy is not an option for these groups, since war and terrorism alike exist only in the place of failed negotiations. To think of terrorism as being evil is to be ignorant of the other side’s point of view and beliefs.

Terrorism is bad. It’s the intentional use of violence to achieve political goals. War is bad. It’s the intentional use of violence to achieve political goals. However you look at it, this is the truth. From living in a nation where war is commonplace and terrorism is only ever seen as a tool used by the enemy, I’ve realized how important it is to seek as good of an understanding as possible of the other side. If you see them as being fundamentally evil, and act on that assumption, than they we see you in the same light, and act accordingly. It creates an endless cycle of malcontent and violence. We are all humans, living on the same lone rock in the universe. We must understand that people can have different beliefs and that no one is fundamentally evil. It’s the only way we can hope to coexist on this planet we share.