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I wanted to write about something else this weekend. Instead, I spent my Friday night sitting by the TV, watching the news from Paris, mesmerized and grief-stricken by yet another proof of human beings’ capacity for inhumanity. And while it didn’t get as much world notice or media coverage, there was also a deadly string of bombings in Lebanon this week.

Even in the midst of awful crisis, there were heroes, as there always are: the Paris security guard who caught one of the suicide bombers before he could enter a crowded stadium, or the Beirut father who tackled another suicide bomber, saving many lives although, sadly, neither his own nor that of his daughter. There were the Parisians who offered open doors, the doctors and nurses who treated the wounded, the people who stood vigil in solidarity all over the world.

It’s one of the unfortunate hallmarks of our era and our technology that a small handful of people can commit an atrocity that transfixes the world’s attention. Given the impossibility of protecting every public place where terrorists might strike, we ought to recognize that this is a battle that can’t be won militarily. The only way to truly end jihadist terror is to confront it at its source, on the battlefield of ideas… except that eradicating hate and religious extremism everywhere on earth seems just as unattainable a goal.

The only advice I have is to remind ourselves that we ought to be better than the monsters who did this. Let us not fall victim to the poison of prejudice, let us not turn away from our fellow human beings in need. And let us hold fast to our belief in freedom, in peace, in humanity – no matter the cost.

Images: Eiffel Tower via Moyan Brenn; Mount Lebanon via rabiem22; both released under CC BY-ND 2.0 license

DAYLIGHT ATHEISM—Adam Lee is an atheist author and speaker from New York City. His previously published books include "Daylight Atheism," "Meta: On God, the Big Questions, and the Just City," and most...

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