For many of us who move to the United States, the American Dream isn’t a fancy car, or a nice house; it isn’t swimming pools, supermarkets or the suburbs.
The American Dream- from the beginning of this great experiment in liberty until now- was and is religious freedom. It is a dream of the serenity which only comes from being able to practice your religious beliefs, or lack thereof, openly and in peace; free of fear, far from the threat of force, violence, coercion, or danger.
Religious freedom is something you really only notice when you don’t have it. Until it’s gone, it is so easy to take such a fundamental thing for granted. In a place like the U.S., where religious freedom is so ubiquitous it practically grows on trees, it is perhaps especially difficult to imagine a scenario in which such a thing is stripped away.
On Saturday, American Jews were forced to confront this loss of freedom as a gunman entered a Texas synagogue and took several people hostage.
There are certain places which are sacrosanct; where people should be able to congregate in safety. When we hear about acts of terrorism in such places, it hits us with a particular ferocity.
In news that the Taliban has attacked yet another hospital, for instance; posing as doctors to enter and execute medical staff, patients, even nurses, mothers and newborn babies in a maternity ward; we recognize the act as something far beyond the usual evil of murdering innocent people in a cafe with a car bomb.
Both are terrible; both a heinous evil. What is it about an attack on a hospital, or at a place of worship, that feels so much worse?
A car bomb is perhaps indiscriminate; a terrorist who goes to a synagog, or into a hospital, intending to commit an act of violence is not.