As another 9/11 shimmies by, with the terrors of terrorism still being bugled as reasons for budgets fat on weapons of death and short on social programs, it is time to consider another candidate for recognition as a model of moral engagement. Born in Pittsburgh, PA, on March 24, 1983, the man now known as Zak Ebrahim is the son of El-Sayyid Nosair. Nosair won notoriety as the first member of a Bin Laden organization to shed blood on American soil. He is currently spending life in prison for his conviction as one of the master minds of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Indoctrinated in hatred and bigotry by his father, abused by his stepfather, and frequently bullied, Zak might be seen as a likely candidate for engagement in violence, just another victim of the kinds of cycles of violence that can affect not just families but entire communities. Instead, he tells us, ““I stand here as proof that violence isn’t inherent in one’s religion or race, and the son does not have to follow the ways of his father. I am not my father.” Consistent with principles of moral engagement, Zak emphasizes humanizing one’s opponent, engaging in empathy, and seeking reconciliation rather than revenge. Be inspired: listen to his Ted Talk.
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