I want to voice a perspective that I haven't heard expressed yet. I sat at home all day Tuesday, watching the events unfold live on CNN. My mind was staggered, as I struggled to come to terms with what was happening before my eyes. Anger, sorrow, and despair all swirled around in my heart. I tried to imagine the loss of so many people, so swiftly, without apparent reason. As far as I know, I am not personally connected to anyone who died that day, yet I am affected in ways which I still struggle to comprehend.
Two considerations have emerged. The first is to honor each and every day of my life. The future is only an illusion, reality is what we actually experience. Life can end in a heartbeat, with no notice, whether by "accident" or "intention". Tell the people you love that you love them. Say it loud, and say it often. Carpe diem. I give thanks for being alive this day. I give thanks for everything that is offered to me this day. If it benefits the larger good, let my talents be of use this day. May all beings share in my merits.
The second consideration is to really investigate why the people who conceived and executed this staggering atrocity, hate so. This was not a spontaneous act, committed in the heat of passion or rage. It was calculated and carefully engineered. Unless we understand the root of this committed drive, we will only repeat the cycle over again, even if we succeed in killing everyone involved this time.
Bin Laden was trained as a terrorist by the CIA, to fight against our enemy, the Russians, in Afghanistan.
On the front page of the San Diego Union, Wednesday, September 12, 2001, president Bush is quoted "We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them". On page A19 of the paper, is an article about the family of Chilean commander Rene Schneider, who was assassinated with CIA approval in 1970. Schneider was opposed to a military overthrow of the democratically elected president of Chile, Salvadore Allende. The United States supported the coup of Pinocet, which resulted in the death and disappearance of thousands of innocent Chilean citizens. Based on recently declassified CIA documents, Schneider's family has filed a lawsuit against Henry Kissinger and other former Nixon official. One of the reasons that Bush refuses to support an International War Crimes Tribunal, despite overwhelming international support, is that he fears Americans such as Kissinger will be tried.
Americans are shocked that people would plot to kill so many innocent people in New York and Washington, but that is because we are oblivious to the actions of our government around the world. We are numbed by our material quest for fulfillment, and don't want to examine what it takes to support our consumptive lifestyle. The money we spend on cosmetics in a year would insure safe drinking water for everyone on the planet, yet hundreds of thousands of children die every year from preventable diseases due to contaminated water.
The list is enormous, and most of us don't notice at all. Perhaps a little good can come from this disaster. We all noticed that something happened. National security won't come from having the most bombs, or the biggest army. A few dedicated fanatics with razor blades took out the prize symbol of New York city. True national security will come from an understanding that ALL people want to see their children grow up strong and happy.
We live on a very small planet. We are too numerous a species, with too much technological power at our disposal, to think that a few can flourish while the rest die in squalor. Our own power was used against us.
Please make no mistake. I am proud to be an American. I am proud of the ideals that this country is founded upon. I despise the use of terror and mass destruction, whether by religious fanatics or economic fanatics. However, we can not take a self righteous stance against terrorism, without destroying the validity of our actions. Mass destruction of civilian lives can not be condoned, but we must have the humility to acknowledge our own culpability in creating the atmosphere that leads to such despicable acts. Only then can we truly lead the world to a safer civilization.
I don't pretend to have the answer. This is a very difficult task, unprecedented on the face of the planet, but nothing less will really do any more. There is too much at stake.