Dear “Neutralized” Terrorist,

Your death troubles me deeply. It is unfair that you are dead, shot down by police moments after you committed your bloodthirsty attack against humanity. It is unjust that you were permitted to escape into oblivion without ever having to feel the echoes of your final actions. While the families of your victims will weep and mourn, you have been liberated from pain. There seems to me nothing more unfair than your death.

Did you have any final thoughts as you laid there riddled with bullets? Did a smile break across your dying face as you thought about your own piety and righteousness? Did you contemplate the reward you were bound to receive for your vicious act? Did you prepare yourself to face your god and enter your promised paradise?

I do not believe in an afterlife but at times like these I find myself wishing there was some supernatural existence awaiting your tainted souls. I wish, even if only for ten minutes, you would be ushered into a white room with the faces of all the people you butchered flashing on the walls. I would want you to look deep into their eyes and suddenly realize to your greatest horror that you were wrong. I would want you to make the horrible discovery that there is no heaven awaiting you, no god with open arms coming to embrace you. In the end, you murdered for no reason, your entire life was used in the service of evil. I believe even if this afterlife lasted only ten minutes the pain you would experience would far exceed any pit of everlasting fire.

Alas, there probably is no hereafter. You probably escaped without feeling any guilt. You probably thought your life meant something, even in those final moments. Your body is now decaying and with it your poisoned brain. You will be devoured by the dirt and will never have a chance to breathe again, and the world is better for it.

I know revenge is unbecoming. I know I should not harbor such thoughts nor should I wish them to come true, but alas, I am human and I have my weaknesses.

It is important that you know that while I despise the radical ideology that poisons your mind, I do not hate you. Above all, I pity you. I am sorry for you. I am sorry that you were never taught the value of your own life. I am sorry that you were brainwashed to believe that your only purpose was to die as a pawn in some cosmic battle. I’m sorry that you were so filled with hate as to forget the warm embrace of love. I’m sorry that your potential, your unique wellspring of creativity was harnessed for evil and wasted in vain.

I’m sorry that in those final moments of your life, you couldn’t see beyond your twisted ideology to the innocent men, women and children that you cut down. I wish you would have noticed the gentle father conversing with his son. I wish you would have noticed the mother who only wanted to raise her children to be tolerant of others. I wish you would have seen the young couple in love who were hoping to get married in the summer. I wish you would have seen the elderly lady who survived the nightmare of Nazism and still believed that humans are inherently good. But you could not see these people; your eyes were shrouded in a cloak of hatred, your heart clothed in anger.

You have hurt the world; your existence will have served no other purpose than to damage the world. How I wish you would have been born to different parents or in a different community and you would have been like me, who even with all my faults, would never wish to kill or hurt anyone and who wants in my brief time on Earth to make my fellow humans breath a little easier.

We will continue to go on without you. Your action may have weakened the resolve of some, but you cannot break the human spirit. The human race has been seeking the ideal of peace in every generation throughout the millennia. From prophets to philosophers, leaders to activists, we have constantly sought to bridge the chasm that separates us from one another and to see an end to war and conflict. Your atrocious act, however violent, however terrifying, will not stop of us from hoping for and pursuing with passion this most wonderful of ideas.

How I wish I could have spoken with you moments before your fatal deed. How I would have pleaded with you to reconsider, and choose the path of life. I would have begged you, for your own sake, to open your mind, and for perhaps the first time in your life to see the man who holds a different belief than you as nothing less than your brother, to see the woman who dresses in a way different than what you were taught as your sister. How I wish my words could have pierced your poisoned heart so the bullets would not have to. Indeed, it is too late for that now.

I am tired of death. I am made sick by violence. My greatest wish is that we humans finally realize that we are — all of us — a family. The differences between us pale in comparison to the similarities, the flags and borders that separate us our illusory. We are not black or white, Muslim or atheist, gay or straight, we are humans, and the Earth is our home.

You distanced us from this ideal with your heinous actions. It troubles me greatly that you will rest in peace.

Written with equal parts anger and sadness,

A citizen of the world