During the Cold War, President Kennedy urged Americans:
"So, let us not be blind to our differences—but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal."
ISIS: Do these people truly inhabit this small planet, breathe the same air, cherish their children's future and operate on the assumption of their own mortality? Or do they really live on another planet, with different air and in disregard of the earthly future of humanity?
If we don't share these most common basic links, then our morality this struggle may have to come down to the simple kill-or-be-killed desperation with which our writers and movie makers have imagined fighting an invasion of aliens from outer space.
My dad fought in World War II. By the time he found himself in Europe, the American government and the newspapers had filled his head with so much propaganda about these animals, the Germans, that he practically expected them to have green skin and fangs. At the very least, he was prepared to do battle with supermen, and evil incarnate. The first week he was in France, a German Focke Wulf fighter plane was shot down and crash landed in a field. My dad's green unit approached the plane cautiously to see if the pilot was alive and to take him prisoner. It took them almost an hour to pull him out of the cockpit, because he was so scared, he was stiff. And at that moment my 18-year-old father realized to his astonishment, as he explained as he looked into my wide, eight-year-old eyes, "These are just boys, exactly like us."
ISIS: Are these just boys, exactly like us?
Or are they animals, and nothing like us?
It's not the only question we must answer, but it seems to me it must be the first one.