11 September 2001
Thoughts and Forum Archive
Updated 11 September 2003
|This is an archive of Serendip materials originally posted on 11 September 2001 and of contributions to an associated on-line during the period 11 September through 17 September.
A separate forum, The Place of the US in the World Community was initiated in the fall of 2002 in response to the potential invasion of Iraq.
A new forum, The Place of the US in the World Community, November 2004 was created to consider the November 2 American elections and their signficance for the nation and the world.
11 September 2001 has again, for new generations and my own, exposed that vulnerability ... in broader and even more important ways. What the events of 11 September 2001 have laid bare is the reality of disconnections between human beings. It is a reminder of the tragic price paid repeatedly in the past when human beings fail to recognize, value, and work to enhance their common humanity. And a warning of the still greater price to be paid in the future if we cannot learn to overcome the human inclination to seek security and well-being for one group of human beings by identifying another group of human beings as evil.
One cannot but be overcome by the many individual horrors and tragedies of 11 September 2001, by the suffering of those injured and killed, and of those whose lives have been irremediably altered by the loss of others. And one cannot but feel anger at those whose actions caused that suffering. But the lessons of human history are clear and compelling. There is no well-being, no security or invulnerability, to be found in the demonization of other human beings. Violence begets violence, in an unending and ever more tragic cycle. In the midst of the emotion of pain and suffering and tragedy, we need to continue learning to be wise, not to deny our emotions but to use them as a foundation for actions that yield greater meaning and purpose.
What the events of 11 September 2001 reveal is the existence of a very angry and very well-organized group of human beings with access to quite significant resources who were largely invisible to, or at least ignored by, most of us. It is the existence of that group of human beings, and, most importantly, their estrangement from large segments of the rest of the human community, which is perhaps the most important reality laid bare by the events of 11 September 2001. In an ever-shrinking world in which technology puts ever greater power in the hands of individuals, we cannot any longer afford to act in ways that cause humans to become estranged from one another or to ignore estrangements when they occur.
We are a human community, and among our greatest strengths is the differences among us. They are to be feared only when they are accompanied by estrangement. We need to hear each others' stories, so that we can better tell and retell our own and, in doing, contribute our own pieces to the continually evolving human story. And we need not only to feel but also to reflect and think, to find the new and still better ways to make sense of the world we find ourselves in ... and to remake it anew.
Loss of innocence is both painful and necessary. There is no way to guarantee well-being, safety, security, happiness. But we can get less wrong, learn from the past, not remake mistakes by which humans themselves worsen rather than lessen human vulnerability. It is a time to take the time to feel and reflect and think, to tell and listen to each others' stories, to commit ourselves anew to finding ways to tell our collective human story in a way from which no one feels estranged.
Your feelings/thoughts/ideas are needed, and can help. Please leave them in Serendip's forum below.
12 September, 2001
Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair
Show an affirming flame
from W.H. Auden, September 1, 1939
Human beings suffer,
They torture one another,
They get hurt and get hard.
No poem or play or song
Can fully right a wrong
Inflicted and endured.
The innocent in gaols
History says, Don't hope
from Seamus Heaney, The Cure at Troy
All that you touch
All that you Change
from Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower
With thanks to NPR's Weekend Edition and WHYY
15 September 2001
You and I must be about the same age. I felt like I lost innocence at two points in my adolescence--the day that JFK was shot and during the Cuban missle crisis.
The day that JFK was shot, I was in eighth grade history class and--like everyone else who experienced that--I remember very clearly all the details. What my teacher was saying in between sobbing and putting her head down on her desk, what she was wearing. We didn't know what to do. Should we stay in class, should we cry, should we go home? Could we be safe anywhere if even the President of the United States couldn't be safe?
During the Cuban Missle Crisis, we practiced all those air raids, got under our desks, and half the town was building air raid shelters in their back yards. My parents weren't very political people and sort of dismissed the danger, but I felt that it was very real, and I worried that we would all die if something did happen. We didn't even put together the trunk of canned goods that was recommended, not that it would have done any good. I remember having dreams about being kidnapped by Russians and taken away somewhere.
Yesterday I felt those same fears and emotions. Can we be safe anywhere? What should we do? Go to class? Go home? Cry? Take a tranquilizer? Call our family and friends in NY or leave the phone lines open? When I got home, I felt like I had to do something physical, so I cleaned house (which I never do!). I could not do nothing.
We will all remember exactly where we were and who we were with when this horrific thing happened, just like our generation remembers the day that JFK was shot.
Maybe the reason for reading, writing, and retelling our fairy tales over and over--including all the violence and blood and gore--is a way of working through our demons without actually experiencing the violence on a personal level and without actually applying those demonic labels to other peoples. We can imagine violence rather than experience it.
Bryn Mawr is an international community--a perfect place to practice getting it less wrong. I wanted to hug those Muslim students who had been insulted yesterday.
Love and peace to all.
The sun rose today over the eastern coast of the United States, and life goes on.
Following yesterday's tragic events, the emotions of anger, resentment, frustration, and desire for revenge seem entirely justified. Many people feel violated and might like to see a strong retaliatory attack. This is understandable, especially for those whose friends and loved ones were among the thousands killed or wounded.
In the wake of yesterday's tragedy, I've been pondering the application of the "serenity prayer" to my experience of these events.
"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference."
Acceptance does not mean approval of the evil actions of others nor condoning inhumane behavior. It only means that what has happened has happened, and it cannot be "unhappened." The tragic events of September 11, 2001, "will live in infamy" (as Franklin Roosevelt said of December 7, 1941). But they live as objective facts to be taken into account in the present and in the future, not as events that can be relived and somehow changed in the act of reliving. Since we cannot change them, recriminations about what we could've done or should've done are futile. So we need the serenity to accept those things that we cannot change.
In praying for courage to change the things I can, I am asking for guidance about the choices that are open to me in the present and my responsibilities toward myself and others. And the "wisdom to know the difference" implies that I should devote myself to constructive activities with a positive thrust toward the future rather than allowing myself to get caught up in lamenting the past and wishing for recrimination or revenge.
Many things will change over the next few weeks and months, but life will go on. Let us hope that in our own experience the changes will be life-affirming and life-enhancing rather than negative and destructive.
I am inspired by the incredible acts of courage and generosity this international tragedy has brought to life amidst so much despair and devastation. And am curious to see how all this becomes part of our moral, psychological, sociological and political heritage.
My daughter was told that at her college she must be aware that Caucasians are at risk. I am saddened that Muslims have been singled out for blame when fanatics can be of any ethnic or racial or religious group. Maybe we are all missing one of the major tenants of the great religions and ethical beliefs,to love and honor and respect our brothers and sisters..
-Kyle Y. Faget, post-bac
"He who saves a single life, saves the entire world." -- Talmud Yerushalmi (Sanhedrin 4:9)
The Talmud notes that all people are descended from a single person, thus taking a single life is like destroying an entire world, and saving a single life is like saving an entire world.
I think we should all remember that even with all this horrible death and destruction, there are small miracles, the people who arrived at work late or called in sick, decided to go grab coffee, and thus survived all this horror. We should realize that although many worlds were lost, some were saved. We should celebrate the many worlds that survived even as we mourn the countless worlds lost.
At a time like this, there is little we can do to help. When we first got the news, a few friends and I took the spiritual approach of saying Psalms 20 and 118 which are appropriate for emergencies. I'm not going to suggest or demand that anyone else do this, especially since it's a religious thing and I know everyone has their own beliefs, but for me it was a way to do something instead of feeling helpless. Even if all you do is hope for the well-being of those who are trying to recover, you are still doing something that is important. I'm sure that those in the hospital are glad to know that people are worrying about them and hoping they recover soon.
Okay, I'll stop ranting now.
I, as well as many other students have found difficulty trying to continue on with normalcy. I understand partly the reason for not wanting to completely shut down the school. On the otherhand, because BMC did not shut down I basically feel like I am forced to become "normal" again when I still quite frankly, feel like shit.
The whole event hit me pretty hard since I have lived in NYC my whole life and still wonder whether or not some of my friends or faces that I've seen in the past are buried under that rubble.
It seems like some of the college has gone back to normalcy with students laughing on campus and some of my professors letting out their steady stream of homework to students. Because of that, I feel horrible. I still cannot go back to that normalcy..and i feel the world is going on without me and i am being left in the dust. All the time i have been crying and mourning and feeling guilty and feeling exhausted and feeling depressed...work and errands that I have to do have been piling up and up.
Many are pushing for normalcy, but some are not ready. I AM NOT READY.
I find myself obssessed with watching the news coverage constantly and I found myself mustering up the strength and the vocal capability to even post on this forum. It is now 4am and I am having problems sleeping and all i can think of is the World Trade Center and my memories of going there and sitting out near the fountain on the courtyard and shopping in the mall. I can see it in my head perfectly and to know that all of it is gone, and to think of all those people...its just incomprehensible. On top of that I have to worry about all that I have to do for school...
The school tries to be outreaching and understanding with offering counseling services and candle light vigils, but I still feel INCREDIBLY pressured and stressed and hopeless. I am not ready to go back to normalcy..it is too soon for me.
-Debbie Wang '03
Any retaliation being talked about by the US Govenrment (and its coalition) has violent undertones to it. The US President has already declared that those who committed the acts on tuesday and those who harbored the people who committed the acts will be punished. There in lies the dilemma...
As long as we continue to kill as a response to a killing nothing is going to be resolved. Those who are calling it an attack on civilization want to turn around and use their military powers to do the same feel justified to do so in the name of civilization???
I keep hearing that America will never be the same after this event. It will change. However, what I hear of next is 'beefed up security' and more intelligence activity. That is not what I would consider change.
If we are to change for the better, we have to learn to respect each other and have respect for human lives. We have to learn to forgive. Forgiveness, as hard as it might be to comprehend at this juncture is probably the most valuable human virtue. I would like you all to at least think about it and to try and urge those who represent us to consider non-violence as a means to resolving conflict.
The more immediate concern that worries me is the alienation we seem to practice/experience in our daily lives. If a muslim commits a terrorist act it does not imply that all muslims are terrorists. We are, in effect, alienating an innocent person and acting not too differently from the people who carried the attacks on tuesday. It always amazes me to see the reasoning most Americans use when it comes to these issues. Somehow, we do not carry a similar inference when applied to people like Timothy McVeigh (whatever his religious faith was, are people of that faith, by a similar implication, terrorists????).
Alienation, I am afraid to say exists all around us. Ask any person of color. It exists in small actions. Like when the person at the deli counter cannot comprehend your name (to place on an order), or be bothered to try to spell it because the line is too long or they are busy. In fact, this happened to me and my wife last week at Bill's Pancake House in Cape May. The person seating us after hearing my name went on to tell me that she will call me Joe because she is too busy, and then while taking us to our table proceeded to give a lecture: "When you come to places like these, you should use an easy name". Needless to say, we walked out, but at the same time felt alienated.
I'm afraid that as long as we as humans continue to behave in alienating ways towards other humans we cannot expect those who represent us (after all they are a product of our chosing and probably harbor much amplified alienating tendencies) to act rationally. They are, in fact, truly a reflection of our own selves.
So, if one wants change, begin closer at home. That, to me, is the change I would like America to achieve.
I'm trying to carry on, but I'm so angry that the first response of anyone in charge is that of vengeance. I want to shout at them to look around at world examples of vengeance as a response. It just doesn't work. It doesn't work in Israel, or Northern Ireland, or the Balkans. We need to learn a better way.
I think we need to better understand the opinions of people around the world who don't think we're so great. For every time we bailed out some other country some way (and there have been many), we also walked out on a U.N. conference on racism or blew off a Kyoto agreement. We're the SUV drivers who have driven up the price of gas worldwide. We're the travelers who want everything around the world just like we have it at home. We decry violence here but drop bombs on Iraq all the time. We help Israel do the same to the Palestinians.
I love this country; I'm very proud to be an American. But we need to do a better job of being a world citizen. To quote Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along?"
Surely, we need to work together to make our Colleges spaces in which the events of the world can inform our daily activities. Ideally, our leadership can work to understand more fully the roles that they can have in helping us all to have a more fully evolved sense of our priorities. But we can all work, for oursleves and for those we teach and learn with, to come to have a better sense of balance in our lives, to accept "intrusions" into our schedules and to accept for each day both the quantity and quality of the life that we *can* live on that day. The stresses that we have experienced as a result of this disaster remind me how precious each day is, and how we often give away our precious moments to experience only the tension between the "shoulds" we feel from our obligations and our unformed desires to do otherwise, if only these "shoulds" would disappear.
I have class scheduled again today. And, at last, the first rehearsal of this play about global issues. How to go on? I'm not sure. But, for me, the answer has something to do with addressing in our work the need to go on, beginning, for me, with questioning how we can. As I begin to ask myself, in preparation for my encounters later today with my students, "what is the use of theater here?", I am peppered with emails from around the world. Some share poems, others prayers, some announce gatherings...all indicate a profound need to make use of some form of art to connect interior events to exterior events and to begin a process of connecting us as individuals as we seek to be able to understand and to experience the magnitude of our losses and the likelihood of further tragedy.
Thank you to all who have posted comments here. They have all been very helpful to read. Merely to know that "how do I go on?" is a question on many minds gives my mind some ease, and some strength...to go on.
Elizabeth Mosier '84
Lecturer in Creative Writing
Acting Director of Admissions
I have decided to share an email I received this morning. It is from a friedn of mine who works in one of the NYC hospitals as a ward clerk. He is a year younger than I am. I met him in high school through our literary and art magazine (all the editors became very good friends). I was poetry editor and he was a business editor. He sent me this email
"subject: Thursday morning
I am writing this to hopefully give you all an idea of what it is like in here. I don't have access to a tv so i don't know what else is going on the the rest of the world and i also don't know what kind of info you r all getting. I am taking pictures of everything here and will e-mail them as soon as i get out of here and have them developed. Let me know what is going on out there inplaces like Tech, Boston, Albany, Pennsylvania, or where ever you r.
I'm at communicating to you all from a portable laptop provided by the red cross at the WTC. I have been here since Wednesday morning and will continue to be here till thursday night and then come back for friday and saturday. It is like a war zone here. All the buildings around the WTC have their windows blown out. The marriot where we all had our proms is completely destroyed. Styuvesant High School is totally blocked off due to the collapse of building numer seven. We r walking around in about two feet of debris. everything is wet and muddy due to water main breaks and water used by the firefighters. We r all sleeping in the streets on top of piles of debris. There r burned emergency service vechicles and chunks of the building everywhere. One of the wheels from the planes that crashed is right in front of me.
There r two triage centers. One on the west side highway and the other on church street on the other side. The Triage center i am at is set up infront of century 21. there r about 50 of us here. They are mostly Nurses, doctors, and Med students. I am the only Ward Clerk here. We r using clothes racks as IV poles, chairs and boards as beds. We are getting our changes of socks and underwear from the brooks brothers stores arcross the street. Hallmark is being used as a public bathroom. the lobby of One Liberty Center is being used as a morgue. An ambulance is being used as an operating room.
We haven't been able to get to the the twin towers yet. The construction workers r still in the process of clearing a path in the courtyard. The have brought in dynamite to take down the building formerly occupied by Broders books store and other surrounding areas so we can have a bigger path into the courtyard. They have begun cleaning up the other areas. City Hall park looks almost as if nothing had happened there. There is no phone or electricity in the whole financial district.
We have only been able to go in to try and find survivors twice due to falling debris. People can be heard but we can't get to them. We have manages to get a couple of survivors on our side but all the rest r dead.
The air is so bad here we can even breathe. Its filled with dust and smeels like rotten fish or something very sour. We put on the mask but sometimes its just too hot for it so we just breathe in the dust. We are all wearing hard hats and oxygen masks. I have been doing a lot of eye washes and wrapping sprained ankles.
It is like a war zone here. The national guard and military is here. occassionally we here fighter jets fly above us. There are also soldiers with riffles and orther weapons with their hands always on the trigger. There are HumV's with machine guns on top and other military vechiles.
We have also gettiing a lot of support from all over the country. A guy from far rockaway brought us about 500 heros and sandwiches, Smuckers donated about 1000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and pizzeria's in nyc have been sending down pies. also many upscale resturants have also been sending food such as baked poatoes and turkey. The red cross and salvation army have been bring in lost of fruits, bread, and water.
Hope to talk and here from all of u soon
unbelievable isn't it?
i am ok...was just awakened by phone call from my preceptor dr. barry dashesfky from francois xavier bagnoud pediatric hiv program univ med/dent new jersey in newark..it's 2pm
i was exhausted probably combination of physical, spiritual and emotional...i worked pretty late at the medical triage center at my old high school..cleaning the eyes of fireman, oxygen for smoke inhalation, a few lacerations but i did not suture any one..no one survivors that is, was found until early this morning and they went directly to hospital...so alot of hanging around w/ alot of concerned volunteer nurses, firemen, emts, attendings, nursing stds, residents, med stds, resp therapists and one psychologist waiting for some people to be unearthed/recovered from the debris....we had three teams...i was on the yellow team...the red team was for very bad injuries....the yellow team was for iv's, mod lacerations, smoke inhalation issues..the green team for washing eyes, minor lacs, and basic care/triage. i took a number of black and white photos don't know if they will be any good..i'll wait and see.
a very eerie experience..was nerve wracking ..on the way to montefiore hosp/einstein hosp in the bronx..heard radio commentators report around 8:45am there was an airplane crash into one of the twin towers..they weren't sure if it was a helicopter or small plane..weren't sure if accident or act of war...by the time i reached the building for the montefiore adolescent aids program...it was confirmed as an act of war with the consequent damage/losses... so i sat around with the staff of the aids prog..they were trying to normalize by continuing their business ....so i listened to their morning mtg, went to afternoon clinic-no patients showed...and visited a hospitalized adolescent female w/aids and cholecystis...meanwhile i while in a state of internal alarm concerning about getting out of the bronx w/ my car since the roads/travel was closed off and how i could contribute to the care..called a couple of tel numbers for medical staff who want to volunteer... all were busy...paged and spoke w/my friend susan abt what was going all with doctor volunteers in nearby hosps -she is an family practice intern at beth israel hosp, she replied there were enough volunteer md's.....
finally i left the bronx around 5pm for the upper west side of manhattan..not knowing if i would be allowed into manhattan over the bridges that separate the bronx from the island of manhattan...at one bridge there was major traffic backup so i jumped the curb and followed another car who i presumed was going to another pt of departure from the bronx.. eventually since i thought that i might need to have some concern about following the blind or mad occupants of nyc...i stopped in the street of some neighborhood and asked an Indian guy wearing a "yarmalke"?/jewish skull cap...how to get into the city....he directed me somewhere.... and i eventually met up w/police officers and a road barricade..i was asked where i was going and i said without thought st vincents's hospital..i'm a doctor..so they said ok right this way and there i was on the henry hudson pkwy headed south towards the twin towers all by myself ..... i went through at least 10 police baricades with the doctor/st vincent hosp mantra..not clearly knowing what i would do once there but with a sense of relief that i was doing something at last...some action/some movement....
the closer i approached the scene the more surrealistic/unreal the day/the moment became...i was redirected towards st vincent's around 14th street but remembered my friend's (intern at beth israel hosp nr 14th st) admonishment that there were alot of doctors standing around st vincents and surrounding hosps doing nothing..i ignored the redirection and followed a red cross van further down the highway and at some point determined from conversation at a stop ppoint that there was a medical triage setup at my former high school Stuyvesant located approx 3 blocks from the twin towers.. i continued onward until i was told no cars were allowed....parked my car grabbed my stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, and opthalmoscope and walked thru a scene lit by ambulances/fire trucks/dust w/soot in the air and underfoot..thick....passing so many firemen, emt's......spoke w/ one emt (by the way he's applying to pitt's med schl)covered with soot/dust and ascertained there was still a need but minor for medical staff at the triage setup at stuy hs..because no people have been recovered yet...omnious...so on i went...also had packed my camera with no film..but just in case...
arrived at the doors of the high school and again stated i was a doctor and was let in and amazed at the the setup both the organization and lack of ...lots of medical staff..nurses, residents, med stds and so many firemen-women..and 3 sections of cots with sheets/blankets and iv poles with bags of fluid hanging...tables with gloves, intubation tools, iv supplies, gauze... and a command post w/ a very authoritative/commanding woman presence..i think she was fire dept..in charge of authorizing teams into the field..
german shepherds for search teams..just a very solid sense of activity but no patients other than the returning firemen from the search operations with smoke inhalation....smoke/debris in the eyes and minor lacs..
went outside several times to view the physical carnage and the hundreds of volunteers and city workers....assigned to the yellow team and sat and walked and talked and took some photos and irrigated some eyes....
at some point news that there were 2 survivors found and a big cheer was let out ...and sense of readiness for patients arriving was renewed..several hours later the chief md of the firemen announced the center was being demoted to green team triage only...thanked everyone and the exodus of most health workers homeward bound including myself began..
walking to the car away from this scene of intense search activity...left me both grateful to have contributed something but empty about the future of survivors....
so tonight i will go to the pier area morgue site to help w/ mental health
peace and love, rob
Like many of you, I continued to watch in confused disbelief and terror as the events of this day unfolded. Now, what I find so unsettling in the wake of this incident is the apparent lack of interest on the part of Americans regarding the motivation behind these acts. Curiously, I have repeatedly heard politicians and members of the media refer to these acts as "cowardly." Cowardly?!
Unspeakably evil!? Beyond any doubt.
Cowardly? I'm not quite sure what motivated these individuals to hijack commercial airliners, and then willfully steer them straight into large buildings (with obvious knowledge of their own impending death), but I think we can safely conclude that cowardice didn't have much to do with it.
I think it's pretty clear that America has seriously pissed some people off. This, of course, in no way justifies the expression of any such anger through terrorism, but the events of September 11 dictate that we better start asking what these people are so angry about. Is it simply fueled by intense differences in religeous ideologies between the "Muslim east" and the "Judeo-Christian west?" Maybe in part, but I suspect it runs deeper than that. Whatever the case, we better damn well find out, because we are not, and never will be, capable of preventing all conceivable acts of terrorism.
It is a sad fact of the world that we live in that destruction comes easy. If we could manage (which we cannot) to perfectly defend our airlines, there are always car bombs or biological and chemical weapons. These are just a few choices which provide plenty of sustenance for any destructive appetite. Indescriminate attacks on countries which harbor individuals capable of this violence is hardly a solution. It even appears, not unexpectedly, that some of the individuals who perpetrated the acts of Sept 11 lived for quite some time right here in the United States. It seems that at least a couple of these terrorists took flight instruction in Venice, Florida.
The fact is that terrorists are not to be found in any one place. These people are part of a very intelligently operated, clandestine, decentralized network which obviously posesses the capacity to evade our intelligence efforts. (And despite what you might be hearing, there is plenty of reason to believe that diverting more money toward intelligence capabilities won't make much of a difference.) Not only that, but the events of September 11 are the efforts of but one of what are surely many such organizations currently in existence. Given this, it stands to reason that any tactless acts of retribution on our part are likely to be met by more violence and death.
In deference to those of you who still want blood, I certainly understand (hell, I even share!), your feelings; especially for anyone who has lost loved ones or friends to this barbarism. I truly think the world would be a better place if certain select members of the human population would drop, or in some way be made, dead. I would include in that lot, without hesitation, any individuals who condone these recent crimes. But more than blood, I want these terrorist acts to cease.
It is time for Americans to trade vengefulness for perspective, and to take a good look at at the rest of the world, at ourselves, and the relation between the two. Do we really stand as "a beacon for all that is good and just in the world," as our president has claimed. Some people clearly don't think so. Moreover, some of these same individuals believe that unspeakable acts of violence and destruction carried out against our civilian population are somehow justified.
It is time to find out why.
I am restricted to my chair,
held back so as not to push
STOP on the VCR infront of me.
It seems we all feel this way.
I am unable to blame (like so many others),
those of different origin, different culture, different colors.
We watch from the outside,
half disturbed by what we cannot stop,
and yet longing to see it again,
to have some humanity before us.
It seems we all feel this way......unconscious.
This, from a Canadian newspaper, is worth sharing.
America: The Good Neighbor.
Widespread but only partial news coverage was given recently to a
remarkable editorial broadcast from Toronto by Gordon Sinclair, a Canadian television commentator. What follows is the full text of his
Trenchant remarks as printed in the Congressional Record:
"This Canadian thinks it is time to speak up for the Americans as the most generous and possibly the least appreciated people on all the earth.
Germany, Japan and, to a lesser extent, Britain and Italy were lifted out
of the debris of war by the Americans who poured in billions of dollars and
forgave other billions in debts. None of these countries is today paying
even the interest on its remaining debts to the United States.
When France was in danger of collapsing in 1956, it was the Americans who
propped it up, and their reward was to be insulted and swindled on the
streets of Paris. I was there. I saw it.
When earthquakes hit distant cities, it is the United States that hurries
in to help. This spring, 59 American communities were flattened by tornadoes.
The Marshall Plan and the Truman Policy pumped billions of dollars into
discouraged countries. Now newspapers in those countries are writing about
the decadent, warmongering Americans.
I'd like to see just one of those countries that is gloating over the
erosion of the United States dollar build its own airplane. Does any other
country in the world have a plane to equal the Boeing Jumbo Jet, the
Lockheed Tri-Star, or the Douglas DC10?
If so, why don't they fly them? Why do all the International lines except
Russia fly American Planes? You talk about Japanese technocracy, and you
get radios. You talk about German technocracy, and you get automobiles. You
talk about American technocracy, and you find men on the moon - not once, but several times - and safely home again.
You talk about scandals, and the Americans put theirs right in the store
window for everybody to look at. Even their draft-dodgers are not pursued
and hounded. They are here on our streets, and most of them, unless they
are breaking Canadian laws, are getting American dollars from ma and pa at home to spend here.
When the railways of France, Germany and India were breaking down through
age, it was the Americans who rebuilt them. When the Pennsylvania Railroad
and the New York Central went broke, nobody loaned them an old caboose.
Both are still broken.
I can name you 5000 times when the Americans raced to the help of other
people in trouble. Can you name me even one time when someone else raced to
the Americans in trouble? I don't think there was outside help even during
the San Francisco earthquake.
Our neighbors have faced it alone, and I'm one Canadian who is damned tired
of hearing them get kicked around. They will come out of this thing with
their flag high. And when they do, they are entitled to thumb their nose at
the lands that are gloating over their present troubles. I hope Canada is
not one of those."
Stand proud, America!
Wear it proudly!!
Friday Night at 7:00 p.m. step out your door, stop your car, or step out of
your establishment and light a candle. We will show the world that
Americans are strong and united together against terrorism. Please pass
this to everyone on your e-mail list. We need to reach everyone across the
United States quickly.
The message: WE STAND UNITED - WE WILL NOT TOLERATE TERRORISM.
We need press to cover this--we need the world to see.
In the constant coverage of the events and aftermath of 11 September I keep hearing references that, while not intentionally seeking to so, insidiously define who is friend and who is foe. For example, in the reports concerning a piece of luggage purported to belong to one of the hijackers several specific items contained therein are repeatedly mentioned. The items identified are an Arabic language flight training manual, an Arabic language flight training videotape and a copy of the Koran. And while the images of celebrations in the Middle East have been sharply criticized, they too have been seen quite often and make a powerfully divisive statement.
It seems to me that we so very much want it to be morally simple. I have heard many expressions that go something like, “they hurt us: therefore, we hurt them.” In the last few days, it has been stated to me many times that the people who attacked New York and Washington are evil and insane. Certainly, mass murder evil and insane. Everywhere I listen, there seems to be overwhelming concurrence with our leaders that we must find the perpetrators and supporters of the attacks, bring them to justice (i.e. kill them).
But I have not been hearing many questions that I feel must be asked addressed. What constitutes aid and support? Is a supporter anyone who gives money, encouragement or cheers at successful terrorist attacks? Why does news of death and destruction in New York and Washington engender (especially from children) expressions of joy? And most importantly, why does there exist a willingness for people, from a multitude of countries, to participate in or support murder? Is it being suggested that we declare war on all of those countries? Are all of the citizens of those countries potential targets, as were all of the citizens of New York and Washington? And how will we react when America does as the President has promised?
Today, as I find myself unable to do much more than mourn our dead, suffer over the horrific destruction and fear for our collative future, I struggle to find the hope that somehow we we will be able to ask these questions and not let our pain and anger hinder our ability to hear the answers.
I have watched endless hours of news,
and read online news,
and talked at length with friends and family,
and I still feel extremely
sad and powerless.
I am disgusted by the pain of the situation!
Babies' skulls crushed in -- this should NEVER happen!
the worst is this:
that I don't know how our lives will change exactly,
but I do know that they are forever changed.
I am quietly suffering... it is lonely.
My comments below were originally sent to a listserv of academic advisors. One of my colleagues suggested I also post them here. FWIW.
I followed with some interest the discussion yesterday about
memorializing the tragic events of Tuesday. Returning from a meeting
where we discussed how to help our students and colleagues through this
difficult period, the messages reinforced to me one important thing -
that many people will react differently to this event and that we need
to respect everyone's feelings in this very distressing time.
I think it is also important to remember, though, how many of us share -
to varying degrees - the same feelings:
* deep grief at the loss of so many lives,
* compassion and empathy toward those most directly affected,
* anger at those who could believe that such at terrible action could,
in any way, accomplish something worthwhile in this world,
* helplessness at being unable to ease the victims' grief or to act to
save any of those lives still hanging in the balance
* and anguish that such horrendous acts of hatred, intolerance and evil
occur in this world.
Yesterday, the last emotion was uppermost for me. I suspect that many
of you are like me - that you want to believe that in this world all
people can make choices between good and evil, that while terrible
circumstances (and some terrible people) conspire to create and sustain
violence, hate and intolerance, the rest of us can actively work for
peace, tolerance, and a life without want and distress for everyone. I
have chosen my career path because I believe it allows me to have a
positive influence on the world, one student at a time. Each day,
though, I am faced by new reports of incomprehensible acts of harm, and
neverending cycles of violence that human beings inflict on each other.
My optimism survives by reminding myself that acts of selflessness,
helpfulness, caring and cooperation are rarely reported, but I see them
around me and can multiply these local events by thousands and millions
and believe that they may at least balance out the hurtful ones.
Tuesday was different. The magnitude of it, the obvious deliberation of
it, the ripples of loss that continue to be felt (and will for a long
time). Yesterday I really struggled to retain any optimism at all for
this world. Not only will we continue to hear and see more of the
devastation as they dig out the WTC, but there will be consequences.
Military action may follow and we can only hope and pray that it is
appropriate. And we must wonder if that reaction will prompt further
acts against us. How can I continue to do my very small part with my
students, my community and my family when so few can destroy so much in
By bedtime last night, I had somehow regained some of my optimism.
Perhaps it was the recognition of how few were involved. Even 50 or 100
of them versus how many thousands of us who are daily involved in the
betterment of our world through the assistance of our students. Any how
many millions (or billions?) of us who are working toward the betterment
of this world in whatever capacity.
So, whatever we do in the long run, here's what I want to do now:
Be a force for good in this world - care for someone, teach someone
tolerance, understanding and empathy, hear someone's anger and help them
avoid vengance, ease someone's pain, help someone achieve something they
didn't think they could.
Advisors, we do all of this, all the time. Yes, for each one of us it's
a small action with one individual. But we are a groundswell and we can
make this world a better place.
I leave you with one of my favorite quotations from John Donne:
"No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the
Continent, a part of the main.... Any man’s death diminishes me because
I am involved in Mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the
bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
I am involved in mankind, and I intend to make the most of that!
Frankly, I find it difficult to focus on assignments and anything else academic. Right now I can only feel, not think. (Thank you Anne for allowing our class to just "be" on Tuesday.)
Those images of the airplanes being swallowed whole into the buildings is so surreal. Huge airliners... You see I was once a flight attendant. My husband is still an airline captain. He arrived home safely Tuesday morning. He's been thinking about what must have gone on in those airplanes. He knows what it would take to remove him from those controls, and these thoughts have silenced him these past few days.
It's always curious to me how the first reports on TV only include the passengers in their tolls of those believed dead -- as though the pilots and flight crew were just part of the structure. Lately the TV stations have been listing the crew numbers, but under a different heading for some reason. Why? Why 85 people and 8 crew? Why doesn't that equal 93 people killed?
and click on "News"
Being far away from home at this time, difficult and frightening as it is, has allowed me to look at and appreciate the Bryn Mawr community perhaps more fully than if I were in the center of it. Alums have reached out to me, offering their homes and a sympathetic ear; colleagues have been supportive and understanding. I can understand the emotions of everybody who has posted here, and commend you for coming forth with them.
Use the strength of Bryn Mawr as a community to listen to and support each other--students, alums, faculty, staff, and neighbors. Everybody has been rocked by this tragedy, and everybody deals with grief differently; some find it easier to continue with daily duties to occupy their minds, and some need to stop everything to give sadness its full measure. We should all do what comes naturally to us, and try to listen and support one another.
I plan to be arriving in Philadelphia by Greyhound on Wednesday, and look forward to seeing all of you.
I live in Jersey City, NJ. The WTC was in my face each day; many neighbors in Hoboken are missing.
My husband and I are both newspaper journalists, so our natural inclination was to run to the corner store to snap up a stack of papers. We read for hours, weeping and staining our finger tips black. We head for the waterfront, staring at the empty space, the plumes of dust.
The thing is, the Mawrter in me -- the need to read and read, to study, to digest and analyze information -- it fails me here. Knowing the facts doesn't mean I understand them.
In all the horror we have found we have no choice but to live in the moment. In our feelings.. We have been shocked into the basic emotions of fear, hate and love. We cannot hide at this time behind idle chatter, endless errands, work, or play. We have shared with those closest and those who are strangers and we have learned a little more about others and ourselves at the most elemental level. We are perhaps less numbed by our fast paced over stimulated lives and material abundance. Than we were on Monday
Forgiveness is I believe not just a feeling but an intent. It takes more than a lifetime for the feelings of forgiveness to catch up sometimes. But for me the intent is a beginning. . A first step. A process.
My McBride Csem class spent Tuesday morning keeping one another company,
mostly in silence, while we learned the horrific news, and began to
process its implications for the way we live our lives. It was the best
we could do--was probably ALL we could do--at that moment. My afternoon
class in feminist literary theory told one another whatever facts we
could gather, and discussed the relationship of our education to what we
were hearing. What do we need to know? How do we go about gathering that
information? Our fears spanned the spectrum: that we would return too
quickly to "normal," that things would never return to normal. We
agreed to go ahead w/ our class agenda later in the week, seeking out
the voices of those who have not been heard and listened to, thinking
that such a project had everything to do w/ making sense of the
atrocities of Tuesday.
I was struck, as we rose to go on Tuesday, by the invitation of one of
my students to all of us to come to her farm, "where it is safe,"
because I was certain then, and continue to feel now, that there is no
safe place on this earth. But thinking is the best way I know to reduce
risk, that IS the project we have already undertaken together, and that
the most hopeful thing I know, right now, is simply to go ahead w/ it:
continuously telling and re-telling stories, incorporating the new
understandings we gain as we go along. The story that needs to be told
and heard about the events of Tuesday morning, and their aftermath, will
be a long and often unbearable time in the writing. But in the meantime,
we can prepare ourselves to listen to and understand it, by setting
ourselves more manageable tasks. The task before my CSem class right
now, for instance, is that of telling and re-telling fairy tales; one of
the aspects of that project involves coming to understand why the "evil"
characters behave as they do.
I have a vision of the kingdon of heaven in which EVERYONE is included;
what I found most hopeful about our large Quaker Meeting for Worship in
the gym on Friday afternoon was the sense of the enlargement of our
circle, the gathering of people do not usually come together on this
campus, worshipping together in a large space w/ all the doors open, and
the call by one of the speakers to "keep these doors open." There were
still limits to the circle we made, though, and it is my hope and my
labor to keep on expanding it.
My primary question when I first heard of the terrorist attacks, and my
insistent and continued question now, is: WHY did this happen? What
were the experiences, what the convictions, what the beliefs that led to
these actions? I very much want and NEED to understand the motivations
of the terrorists who so thoroughly and intelligently designed this plan
which brought so much destruction. Trying to do so, I remembered an
autobiography of a Palestinean revolutionary, Leila Khaled, which Kaye
Edwards and I taught in the Gender Studies core course a few years ago.
Khaled was a hijacker in the late '60s, and her explanation of why she
acted as she did made a lot of sense to me.
"I come from the city of Haifa, but I remember little of my birthplace.
I can see the area where I played as small child, but of our house, I
only remember the staircase. I was taken away when I was four....Haifa
is caressed by the sea, hugged by the mountain, inspired by the open
plain. Haifa is a safe anchor for the wayfarer, a beach in the sun.
Yet, I, as a citizen of Haifa, am not allowed to bask in its sun,
breathe its clear air, live there with my people....we float about,
I vividly remember my mother saying to me, shortly after our arrival in
Lebanon, that I must not pick oranges from the grove nearby. I was
puzzled and insisted on knowing why. My poor mother, with tears
streaming from her eyes, explained: 'Darling, the fruit is not ours;
you are no longer in Haifa; you are in another country'...Henceforth
you are forbidden to eat oranges that are not ours.....
The pleasant summer of 1952 turned into a violent winter in early
December. A storm struck and blew over our school tent which held over
seventy children. A few were injured; the rest of us had the daylights
scared out of us. In the midst of pouring icy rain, tears, and mud, I
stood silently crying as the children screamed and ran for cover. It was
a symbol of our ruined Arab homeland. Local protests and heartrending
stories followed, but to no avail. Western Christian charity had its
limits. The tent was re-erected; there was no alternative. At this
point, the tent had little or no meaning to me. It was not long after
this incident that it began to dawn on me that tens of thousands of
people permanently lived in tents....
My deed cannot be evaluted without examining the underlying causes. The
revolutionary deed I carried out on August 29, 1969 was an assertion of
my spurned humanity, a declaration of the humanity of Palestinians. It
was an act of protest against the West....The list of the sins of the
West is overwhelming...."
Of course I do not countenance the violence--I know that violence only
perpetuates more violence--but, reading this account, I can begin to
understand its origins--and I am convinced that we must find the wisdom
to address the deeper problems that lead to such horror, in ways that
assure no one will ever again be subject to them.
The second, and very much related, question I am trying to work through
is how I am myself implicated in such actions. I was raised in the
Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, where my family was very active in the
Republican Party. In November 1963, when I was 13 years old, I said to a
friend in the hallway of the high school I attended, "Did you hear?
Kennedy was shot. Isn't that great?" One of my teachers overheard my
comment, and told me that, whatever my politics, this was NOT a great
thing. It's been 40 years since that moment of shame. In remembering
it, I cannot forget that the seeds of violence lie in me.
Marianne Moore wrote a poem called "In Distrust of Merits," which reads,
There never was a war that was
not inward; I must
fight till I have conquered in myself what
causes war, but I would not believe it.
I believe it.
Im an Indian and im a university student. Neither means much but id rather get the basics straight. I was born and brought up in a country that has seen terrorism in all its forms - Islamic, Khalistani, Tamil, anarchist, radical communist... - and has learned to take it in its stride. Every month around fifteen to twenty Indian soldiers fall to terrorist attacks on our northern and northeastern frontiers. Close to 20000 people - civilians and soldiers - have died in Kashmir alone, to terrorism.
Im from a relatively poor country. Watching the rescue efforts on TV, one of my first thoughts was - what a lucky country: they have the money and resources to offer stuff which would make so much of a difference here. Counselling, governmental compassion, sensitivity, state-of-the-art equipment, free access to good hospitals...i could go on. There is so much in America which Americans take for granted; which people in Palestine, or Chechnya or Kashmir have never seen and probably never will. A massive earthquake hit western India sometime ago - 50000 dead, and my country's government had problems shipping in cranes to move the rubble. I suppose its worse in the Middle East.
But I digress. America is rather naive when it comes to violent hate. Americans do not know what their government is doing across the world to inspire such hate. How many know that American money, weapons and overt political support allows Israel to occupy Palestine, arrest their Ministers, rape their women and kill their sons? Or that American sanctions have effectively starved to death a whole generation of Iraqis? The Islamic world has always maintained some form of fraternity, and will obviously react adversely to such actions. Its something thats obvious in India because, by our screwed up Kashmir policy, we face it everyday. How many know that American arms to Pakistan have fueled the Kashmir crisis resulting in the deaths of so many Indians, Pakistanis and Kashmiris. How many know that the CIA installed Mobutu and propped him up for more than 3 decades only to be able to stick fingers in Zaires diamonds and natural resources. Or that America traded with apartheid South Africa? Or that America supplied the Contras who killed so many innocent Nicaraguans and Hondurans?
I dont seek to support any country, people or brand of politics. Terrorism in any form is despicable and very very sad. Innocent lives are lost, families are torn apart, mothers lose sons and husbands lose wives. But there is ALWAYS a reason. No one kills for fun. Also let me say that i dont mean to appear biased - lots of innocent Israelis have died because of Palestinian violence, Kashmiri's to Indian violence and so on. We HAVE to move past the stage of revenge and recriminations. Hate does not work.
The charted universe extends (im not too sure) about 400 billion trillion trillion light years around us. And so far we are the only people we know to have a world which supports us. The earth has been compared to a dandelion in the state of Texas. In the face of such compelling and humbling odds arent we wasting our time fighting? Forgive me if i sound romantic, im actually quite down-to-earth.
Isaac Asimov said: "Human history is a dark and turbulent stream of folly illuminated now and than by brilliant flashes of genius". You (anyone reading this, not necessarily American or a bin Laden supporter) have this opportunity. Rise up now, let our generation be the brilliant flash of genius; let our children inculcate understanding from us, and peace from the mistake of our follies.
With sorrow, i apologise to the Bryn Mawr community, the American people and to all those who've lost loved ones, friends and people in Tuesdays attacks. The response of your country and your people has been inspiring. You should know that your grief is not yours alone. If there's anything i could to do to help, i would.
i dont mean to leave this nameless, but id rather at this point. my email address is, however, appended.
im not a mawrter (i think thats what you guys call yrselves), im a guy, im a law student, and ive never been to america.
Five thousand years of compelling empirical evidence indicates that a violent response to a violent act provides, in the most optimistic ssessment, a temporary solution. It seems probable that a violent response to the attack of 11 September will stabilize the governments of terrorist host nations and encourage even more individuals to join terrorist organizations. The argument for a nonviolent response to this attack is particularly compelling because of the diffuse nature of the enemy.
I wish to propose massive, saturating and continuing parachute delivery of food to Iraq and Afghanistan. I do not underestimate the magnitude of this challenge. It will be expensive and technically demanding, but I am confident that the United States can meet this challenge.
It should not be supposed that this is a benign response. The food situation in Iraq and Afghanistan is desperate. The situation in Afghanistan is especially severe. The Afghan drought has been devastating and prolonged. Thousands of Afghanis will starve to death this winter. It seems possible that the Taleban government will make possession of American food a criminal offense that would carry penalties of arrest or summary execution. An Afghani father will face a simple choice: comply with the Taleban or feed his starving family. Food deliveries to these countries will destabilize their governments. All available historical evidence indicates that aerial bombardment will have exactly the opposite effect.
Will this succeed? Truly, I donít know. An uncertain outcome is in the nature of things that have never been tried. However, five thousand years of history teach us that a violent response will fail.
Itís time to try something new.
"When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall --Think of it, ALWAYS."
(my uncle's name)
©2001 By Rev. Ricky Hoyt
"When I worked as a chaplain in the UCLA Medical Center I learned something
about how doctors treat serious wounds. The most effective treatment is to
leave the wound open and force the body to heal from the inside out. Faced
with a serious wound, the doctors stuff the wound full of gauze and cotton,
keeping the two sides at the surface far apart. The skin isn't permitted to
prematurely begin the process of what it naturally wants to do: scab over,
close the hole, leave a scar. The doctors don't stitch up the skin and hope
for the best underneath. Instead, though it sounds counter-productive,
what the doctors do is to hold the wound open. Only deep down, at the very
lowest level, are the two sides permitted to start healing. There, at the
deepest level of the wound, where the two sides meet, where the two sides
were never separated to begin with, is where the healing begins.
"The body wants to react quickly. The job of the doctors is to force it to
wait. Quickly closing the wound, stitching it up, or stretching a band-aid
across open skin, affects only a very superficial healing. The skin heals
over rapidly, but underneath, grave damage is done, and is left unattended.
Beneath the surface the wound comes together at wrong angles. Fluid
continues to leak out broken vessels and trapped inside by the healed over
skin, pools up and swells the area. Dead cells and disease have no means to
be cleansed from the body and so remain in the wound. Infection begins and
protected by the healed over surface breeds and grows strong. The
consequences of healing too soon can be very dangerous indeed.
"As difficult as it is, slow healing from the inside out is in the long run
safer, more effective, and more complete. Little by little it has to heal,
from the bottom up. True healing begins with the tiniest healing, at the
"Meanwhile, at the skin level, it's an ugly process. On the surface the
wound shows no sign of healing at all. The patient is heavily bandaged. The
wound is held open and oozing. The bandages need to be changed often. But
deep inside, where it really counts, cell by cell, the doctors know and the
patient must believe, the damage is being repaired.
"We suffered a serious wound on Tuesday. The nation and the world, both
Americans and all people have been cut, and cut deeply. Healing this wound
will take wise counsel, thoughtful consideration, and compassionate care.
This is the kind of wound that to be effectively healed requires deep
healing. This is the kind of wound that requires our patience as it heals slowly, our discomfort as we wait, our firm resolve to bravely bear up with
the ugliness that must remain for a time on the surface as slowly,
imperceptibly, healing takes place underneath.
"We must resist the forces outside us and within that would ask us to heal
too quickly. We feel shattered and want to be made whole, instantly. We
feel unsettled and want to be reassured, now. We're in the dark and
frightened and want a light immediately switched on. We're angry and want
quick revenge. We've been hit and our fists rise instinctively to hit back.
But we must believe that any strategy toward healing that we could effect
immediately would only create a superficial healing that would eventually
lead to more danger and pain.
"There is no quick healing of a wound like this. Promises of quick solutions
should be met with suspicion. Solutions that sound easy or immediate are
like bringing the two sides of the torn skin together leaving us with a
wound that is healed over, but not healed under. The festering wound we
would bury underneath would not stay buried long. The damage we conceal by
surface healing, the infection we thus allow to flourish, will erupt again,
causing even more damage.
"It's natural to want our world to be put back to normal. We want for what
happened not to have happened. We want our former smooth skin before the
wound appeared to close up smoothly again. And whatever the situation might
be under the surface, at least it will be as invisible as it was before.
"We can deal, if we must, with a skyline of Manhattan that doesn't include
the twin towers, though we will look at that view for the rest of our lives
feeling strange and sad. But we cannot long deal with a world in which we
are frightened. We cannot feel unsafe. We cannot remain terrified,
uncertain, questioning. We want our heartache bundled up in a tidy memorial
in lower Manhattan, a heartache we can visit the next time we're in New
York and then leave again. We cannot bear for long this heartache spreading
over the nation, spreading over our lives. Thus we long for the quick healing we should resist. We want a soothing answer from our clergy, or a confident answer from our President. We want to hear the comforting news that at least no one we know personally has been killed. We want to write a check, light a candle, cry out our tears and take a deep breath. And then we want our lives back. We want our baseball games, and our Broadway shows. We want our cheap gas, our overflowing supermarkets, our regular airplane flights that always frightened us a little anyway. We want to watch our movies and television shows with the shots of the former skyline of New York sensitively edited out. We don't want to understand the terrorists we want to destroy them and forget them. If there has to be war, then so be it: war the way we're used to it: something other people suffer with, in other parts of the world.
"Tuesday morning, Peleg and I were woken by a ringing phone. The phone is on Peleg's side of the bed. He answered and began to speak with the caller in excited Hebrew. I tried to sleep. He turned on the TV and relayed to me the news. What he said made no sense. A plane hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center? How could a pilot be forced to fly a plane into a building? But there were the pictures of the skyscrapers in flames. I couldn't believe what I saw. Then they played a videotape of the second plane crashing into the tower in a burst of orange flame. I couldn't watch. Then there was news that the Pentagon, too, had been struck, and then news that a fourth plane had crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Then the south tower collapsed on live television. And then the North.
"As the tragedy escalated from horrendous to catastrophic, I felt myself
move from shock, to despair, to denial. This was not the world I lived in.
Something had irreversibly changed over night. Something had been
irretrievably lost between Monday night and Tuesday morning. I wanted to
turn off the television and pull the covers over my head. But reality
continued to intrude. This is possible. The phone continued to ring. This
is happening. The dogs jumped onto the bed unaware the world had changed,
unaware that they were comforting us. This horror in New York and Washington and Pennsylvania is the reality of the only world I have the
choice to live in. I became more and more despondent. I felt empty inside.
I felt unable to get out of bed and start with a day in a world where this
"I can't today preach against our desire to go back to bed and pull the
covers up. That's what I want to do myself. I understand reluctance to
engage with people for whom this kind of evil is possible. I understand
this desire to wish the evil away, or to wish the evil contained and dealt
with swiftly and effectively. I don't preach against anger, I am angry. I
don't preach against a desire for action. I want action. I want the
offenders to be punished. I want to be safe again. I want to be assured
that this will never happen again. I share this desire that it just hadn't
happened, or that we can quickly forget it had happened except in some
carefully controlled memorial services and distant military strikes.
"What I do preach against is letting our desire for quick solutions lead us into thinking that quick solutions are possible. I preach against letting
my anger and my need for action lead me into angry actions that smooth over
the skin without addressing the still gaping wound beneath. There are some
things we must do immediately. We need to quickly rescue those who can be
rescued and care for those injured. We need to secure our airports and
reopen our financial markets. We need to quickly identify those who
participated in these criminal acts and bring them to justice, including
protecting ourselves against their future acts.
"But once these superficial acts have been completed we must not pretend
that the wound has healed. We mustn't confuse the quick actions we can and
must do with the long, sustained actions that lead to deep healing. We
don't want just a world in which Tuesday never happened, or appears to have
never happened. We want a world in which Tuesdays in the future won't
"Deep healing requires that we be willing to live with pain. ...
"I preach against letting my anger and my need for action lead me into angry actions that smooth over the skin without addressing the still gaping wound beneath. There are some things we must do immediately. We need to quickly rescue those who can be rescued and care for those injured. We need to secure our airports and reopen our financial markets. We need to quickly identify those who participated in these criminal acts and bring them to justice, including protecting ourselves against their future acts.
"But once these superficial acts have been completed we must not pretend
that the wound has healed. We mustn't confuse the quick actions we can and
must do with the long, sustained actions that lead to deep healing. We
don't want just a world in which Tuesday never happened, or appears to have
never happened. We want a world in which Tuesdays in the future won't
"Deep healing requires that we stay frightened a little while. Deep healing requires that we give up our comfort, that we force the wound open, that we not crave the world the way it was, and deny the world the way it is. Deep healing means identifying that point far below the surface of the skin where the wound begins, and working there in the dark and the blood, not healing over the top, hiding the disease below.
"Repairing Tuesday's damage, comforting Tuesday's bereaved, punishing
Tuesday's terrorists isn't enough. Deep healing requires more. Healing that
wound requires a willingness to examine the deep-rooted cause of that
wound. That wound goes deeper than two 110-story buildings brought to the
ground. That wound goes even deeper than 5,000 people dead or missing. That
wound goes deeper even than a nation in shock and mourning, or an entire
world united in horror and outrage by the actions of a few.
"We must be willing to heal as deep as the wound. This wound is deeper than
the Mid-east, and Afghanistan and a 21st first century terrorist network. This wound has roots that stretch back centuries to an Islamic culture of
unparalleled arts and sciences and philosophy dismissed and destroyed. In
the depths of this wound we'll find painful memories of Western crusades
and colonialism. We'll find land stolen and redistributed. We'll find a
religion perversely torn from it's own principles of peace and tolerance
and made to justify hate and violence. We'll find poor, disempowered people
made suddenly wealthy by the luck of oil. We'll find a people so
continuously oppressed that they assert power the only way they can, men
against women, Muslim against Jew, military dictator against his own
people, terrorist against the world.
"These are not simple hurts and petty pains. However misdirected or
unreasonable, this suffering and anger must be taken seriously, listened
to, and addressed. We must be willing to find the deep place where the two
sides of the wound come together, the place where the narrowest split
begins and start healing there. The depth of the wound is ugly and
painful. Deep healing will mean getting smeared with the blood of centuries. It won't go away by smoothing over the surface.
"We live in a world in which evil is possible. It's been with us and around
us long before Tuesday. What Tuesday's instance of evil confronts us with
is how truly horrible this world can be, the depths of pain and suffering
human beings are willing to deliberately inflict on each other, and how far
away we are from the world of peace, love, and justice, we long for.
"Evil is possible in this world because we are not governed by a loving
supernatural power. Would that Tuesday's example would put to rest the
illogical belief in a God of complete power and love. No God I could
believe in, capable of preventing Tuesday's horror would have allowed it to
happen. The God I do believe in loves us completely, holds out ideals of
the best our lives could be, urges us to make good decisions, and suffers
with us when we make bad decisions.
"Evil is possible in this world because human beings are free to choose
evil. We are capable of guiding our own lives, making our own choices,
creating our own futures a moment at a time. If a person is determined to
choose evil, there is no force capable of preventing their actions or
forcing them to chose another way. Each of the hijackers throughout the
flight and in the months and apparently years leading to Tuesday passed
innumerable opportunities to choose not to do what they eventually did.
That they freely chose this action over other, better, possibilities makes
their actions evil, and we must live with the knowledge that evil choices
remain available to others.
"Thus while we can hope that the future will be better, there are no
guarantees. It is possible that even greater horror than that we saw on
Tuesday will come to be. We hope it will not. We can choose for ourselves
not to choose evil but to contribute our choices toward the best future
possible. We can work to lessen the number of tragic futures possible by
securing our airports and imprisoning those who plot further harm. Most
importantly we can work to mitigate the influences in our world that encourage people to choose evil. We can strive to understand the pain
people face that lead them to think terrorist actions are a solution.
"The world we woke up to Tuesday morning is finally no different than the
world we went to sleep in Monday night. This is a world of human choices
where great evil is possible. And it was and still is, a world where great
joy is possible. If we steadfastly commit ourselves to the work of deep
healing, knowing that it will be painful, frightening, long and difficult,
we may yet create the world of peace, love and justice we long for. The
world awaits our deep healing. May we be equal to the task. The world
awaits our good choices. May we choose wisely for the world we create is
©2001 By Rev. Ricky Hoyt
2. The word Islam is best translated into English as 'commitment'. Followers of Islam, called Muslims, commit their lives to peace, harmony, truthfulness, good works, charity, neighborliness, almsgiving, acceptance of religious pluralism, and diversity.
3. The religion of Islam does not support, preach, or advocate violence, discrimination, or terrorism in any way, shape, or form.
4. Extremist groups who claim to follow Islam are no more representative of Islam than David Koresh is of Christianity.
5. The religion rests on five pillars. These are:
a. Declaration: Since Islam is a monotheistic religion, i.e. Muslims believe in only one God, each Muslim declares that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is his final prophet. Islam recognizes the prophethood of Jesus, Moses, Abraham, Noah, etc.
b. Prayer: Muslims perform ritual prayer five times per day.
c. Fasting: During the ninth month of the lunar Islamic calendar, Ramadan, Muslims who are old enough and healthy enough fast for 29 or 30 days from sun-up to sun-down.
d. Giving to the Poor: It is incumbent upon every Muslim to donate a certain portion of his or her earnings to the less fortunate.
e. Pilgrimage: Each Muslim should make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in his or her lifetime if he or she has the means to do so.
6. Contrary to popular belief in the West, jihad is not one of the five pillars of Islam.
7. In the West, the concept of jihad has been improperly translated as 'holy war.' Instead, jihad means 'struggle' and refers, in particular, to the personal struggle that every Muslim engages in to live a peaceful and good life.
8. One of the basic precepts of Islam is the equality of all people regardless of race, ability, or gender.
9. Muslims believe that there is no compulsion in religion and that individuals are free to choose their own religion and beliefs.
10. The Qu'ran (a.k.a. Koran) accepts religious pluralism as a fact of life and sees strength in diversity.
11. Centuries before the women's movement in the West, Islam granted women the right to own property, to be educated, the right to inherit. In the West, in many instances, women did not receive these rights until centuries later.
Muslims and Arabs
1. 'Arab' and 'Muslim' are not synonymous.
A Muslim is a person who follows the precepts of Islam.
'Arab,' on the other hand, is an ethnicity; it refers to a person from the Arabian peninsula.
2. Of the 1.2 billion Muslims in the world, only 15% are Arabs.
3. Many Arabs are not Muslims. There are large Christian populations in Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon, to name only a few.
4. Muslims are of every ethnicity on earth from sub-Saharan Africans to Europeans in Germany, Bosnia, and France; from African-Americans in Oakland, California, to Portuguese-speaking Brazilians. There are more than 50 million Muslims in China; more than 150 million in Indonesia.
5. It is estimated that there are more than 8 million Muslims in the United States. Islam is the fastest growing religion in the United States. On November 13, 2001, the United States Postal Service will recognize the growing presence of Islam in the US mainstream by issuing the first U.S. stamp bearing Arabic writing and wishing "Eid Mubarak" or "Happy Feast", and referring to the three-day religious holiday marking the end of Ramadan.
6. Arabic is a language spoken throughout the world. Not every speaker of Arabic is an Arab, just like not every speaker of English is an Englishman.
>I've been hearing a lot of talk about "bombing
>Afghanistan back to the Stone Age." Ronn Owens, on KGO
>Talk Radio today, allowed that this would mean killing
>innocent people, people who had nothing to do with
>this atrocity, but "we're at war, we have to accept
>collateral damage. What else can we do?"
>Minutes later I heard some TV pundit discussing
>whether we "have the belly to do what must be done."
>And I thought about the issues being raised especially
>hard because I am from Afghanistan, and even though
>I've lived here for 35 years I've never lost track of
>what's going on there. So I want to tell anyone who
>will listen how it all looks from where I'm standing.
>I speak as one who hates the Taliban and Osama Bin
>Laden. There is no doubt in my mind that these people
>were responsible for the atrocity in New York. I agree
>that something must be done about those monsters. But
>the Taliban and Ben Laden are not Afghanistan.
>They're not even the government of Afghanistan. The
>Taliban are a cult of ignorant psychotics who took
>over Afghanistan in 1997. Bin Laden is a political
>criminal with a plan. When you think Taliban, think
>Nazis. When you think Bin Laden, think Hitler. And
>when you think "the people of Afghanistan" think "the
>Jews in the concentration
>camps." It's not only that the Afghan people had
>nothing to do with this atrocity. They were the first
>victims of the perpetrators. They would exult if
>someone would come in there, take out the Taliban and
>clear out the rats nest of international thugs holed
>up in their country.
>Some say, why don't the Afghans rise up and overthrow
>the Taliban? The answer is, they're starved,
>exhausted, hurt, incapacitated, suffering. A few
>years ago, the United Nations estimated that there are
>500,000 disabled orphans in Afghanistan--a country
>with no economy, no food. There are millions of
>widows. And the Taliban has been burying these widows
>alive in mass graves.
>The soil is littered with land mines, the farms were
>all destroyed by the Soviets. These are a few of the
>reasons why the Afghan people have not overthrown the
>We come now to the question of bombing Afghanistan
>back to the Stone Age. Trouble is, that's been done.
>The Soviets took care of it already. Make the Afghans
>suffer? They're already suffering. Level their
>houses? Done. Turn
>their schools into piles of rubble? Done. Eradicate
>their hospitals? Done. Destroy their infrastructure?
>Cut them off from medicine and health care? Too
>late. Someone already did all that. New bombs would
>only stir the rubble of earlier bombs. Would they at
>least get the Taliban? Not likely.
>In today's Afghanistan, only the Taliban eat, only
>they have the means to move around. They'd slip away
>and hide. Maybe the bombs would get some of those
>disabled orphans, they don't move too fast, they don't
>even have wheelchairs. But flying over Kabul and
>dropping bombs wouldn't really be a strike against the
>criminals who did this horrific thing. Actually it
>would only be making common cause with the Taliban--by
>raping once again the people they've been raping all
>this time. So what else is there? What can be done,
>Let me now speak with true fear and trembling. The
>only way to get Bin Laden is to go in there with
>ground troops. When people speak of "having the belly
>to do what needs to be done" they're thinking in terms
>of having the belly to kill as many as needed. Having
>the belly to overcome any moral qualms about killing
>innocent people. Let's pull our heads out of the sand.
>What's actually on the table is Americans dying. And
>not just because some Americans would die fighting
>their way through Afghanistan to Bin Laden's hideout.
>It's much bigger than that folks. Because to get any
>troops to Afghanistan, we'd have to go through
>Pakistan. Would they let us? Not likely. The conquest
>of Pakistan would have to be first. Will other Muslim
>nations just stand by?
>You see where I'm going. We're flirting with a world
>war between Islam and the West.
>And guess what: that's Bin Laden's program. That's
>exactly what he wants. That's why he did this. Read
>his speeches and statements. It's all right there. He
>really believes Islam would beat the west. It might
>seem ridiculous, but he figures if he can polarize the
>world into Islam and the
>West, he's got a billion soldiers. If the west wreaks
>a holocaust in those lands, that's a billion people
>with nothing left to lose, that's even better
>from Bin Laden's point of view. He's probably wrong,
>in the end the west would win, whatever that would
>mean, but the war would last for years and millions
>would die, not just theirs but ours. Who has the belly
>Bin Laden does. Anyone else?
In the meantime, the sponsor of this web-site--if he really wants to be inclusive, as distinguished from pretenting to be so--would be well-advised not to use epithets like "jingoistic" to characterize points of view with which he does not agree.
Ashley Doherty '71
Sisters and brothers:
On December 7, 1941 the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor transformed our parents into "the greatest generation." On September 11, 2001, the terrorist attack on America called their children to be a greater geeration still. We could not prevent this tragedy We can choose our response to it
On Tuesday not only Americans but all lovers of peace and freedom entered into an unprecedented struggle, not for the sovereignty of a nation or an alliance, but for peace, freedom, and the sacredness of human life. The aim is not victory, but peace. The combatants are not armies of opposing nations, but the forces of peace, justice, and love defeating evil, violence, and fear. The disputed territory is not miles of bloodsoaked ground, but the hearts and souls of humanity and the structures of society.
Terrorism will not be defeated, nor peace established, by those in military service alone, but by all those who enter wholeheartedly into a combat of spirit more intense than we can imagine today. Let us join the army of warriors for peace, accomplishing peace by peaceful means.
The challenge to us as a people:
"Finally, let us summon one more time the better angels of our nature. Let us mourn united as a people. Let us comfort the injured and grieving in every way that mercy and ingenuity can devise. Let us give our money, our sweat, our blood, whatever the moment requires. Let us forget regional rivalry and work as one nation to rebuild the great city at the mouth of the Hudson. Let us undo the vast economic and civic damage from these crimes with our eyes fixed not on individual gain but on the common good.
Let us show the world how a free, brave, and united nation behaves in the face of calamity and of evil." (The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 12).
While we enter into solidarity with suffering humanity, each of us is challenged to conduct his or her individual life as though the conquest of terrorism and the triumph of peace and freedom depended solely on the power, energy, and commitment we bring to each moment of that life. The passengers, firefighters, and healers responded heroically. Shall we do less?
Only a few are heroes of war; we can all be heroes of peace. Let's make our everyday lives a training ground for the heroism demanded by the challenge of peace. Let's accept the disruption of our own lives and psyches as our privileged share in the suffering of the victims and their families, and let's seek to heal ourselves and one another as patiently and bravely as the firefighters work among the rubble. Let's be united with those from whom we're alienated. Let's express our love for our friends and family, especially those we have neglected.
Our lives did not matter to the terrorists. May they matter all the more to us. Let's face our personal challenges and fears with a courage worthy of our heroes. In the smallest aspects of our lives, let's exercise our freedom. Let's attack the challenges of our relationships, our contributions to the world, our health and fitness with the same energy we bring to the rescue operation. Let's strengthen our families, communities, schools, neighborhoods and religious congregations as generously as the firefighters plunged into the buildings. Where we are trapped, let's give free play to our liberation. What we have been postponing, let's do: giving it all, all the way, all the time.
Of the British in World War II, Winston Churchill, their half-American prime minister, said: "The nation had the lion's heart. I had the luck to give the roar." Let us not look to our leaders for inspiration, but be an inspiration to them. We have been a nation with heroes. Now let us be a nation of heroes.
The terrorists destroyed the bodies of thousands, but not their spirits. Let each of us vow to live from now on not only for ourselves, but for all those who have died. Let us demonstrate that, if they did not survive, they still live. They will be our invisible partners as we seek not only to rebuild our country but also to establish forever the peaceful world they did not live to see. God began a good work in them; let God complete it in us.
Evil killed these innocents; now they are free from death forever. We still have our earthly lives; let us live them to the full. The souls of the just are in the hand of God; no terror can touch them. In the face of our fear, let us be courageous. Our beloved dead have passed from time to eternity. We have still--and have only--the present moment to honor them. Let us spend it completely
The encounter with massive terrorism on American soil opens for us the possibility of a new future: a world at peace, in which every country is as safe as we once believed the United States was. As we are transformed by our encounter with that future, let us unfold from it lives worthy of the people to whom it has spoken: worthy of the innocent and beloved dead who opened it for us, and worthy of the heroes they call us to be.
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