I am a father of daughters. From the day they were born, I have been madly in love with their every look, gesture, thought, and smile. When they were little I admired their artwork and soccer playing. As they’ve grown older, I have been dazzled by the adults they are becoming. Along with my wife, they are my Valentines, and I can not imagine life without them.
So I can’t know what the family of Kayla Mueller is going through. The death of that young Arizona woman in the hands of ISIS was unthinkable, cruel, and horrendous; and it has clearly ignited a desire for revenge among many Americans.
And yet, I find myself thinking a great deal about what she was attempting.
She was trying to help people in need: Syrians who have lost their towns, their homes, family members, and friends. People who are afraid, wounded, and hopeless.
Debate is underway here in D.C. about what should come next on the military front, and that is proper. As much as we may dislike war, history tells us that sometimes vicious enemies will not cease their inhumanities unless forced. But there is something to be said for the extraordinary power of kindness and love too.
Generosity, sympathy, and a willingness to help others are every bit as woven into the fabric of America as is our ability to do battle.
And those qualities too, as much as F16’s, make us stronger in the world. It is, after all, easy for our far-flung enemies to preach hatred against the Americans if all that their people see are drones, and missile attacks. It is harder when they see an American like Kayla Mueller, offering a kind look, an open hand, and help…despite political, religious, ethnic, and national differences.
Enemies undoubtedly cower before America’s unsurpassed military might, but on this Valentine’s Day, it is good to remember that while weapons win wars, kindness wins people. And the merchants of hatred fear our love too.
About the columnist: Tom Foreman is a political correspondent for CNN.