I am from New York City. I used to work about two blocks from the World Trade Center and undoubtedly know many people who died in the attack. And aside from my horror at the terrible loss of life, I was sickened to see one of the most vibrant sections of the city destroyed. I, like many others, am angry. Very angry.
But I will not let my anger get the best of me, and I hope that our government does not either. It is easy to scream for revenge and even easier to attack anyone who may prove to be a convenient target. But in our sorrow and anger there must be time for reflection. If we have learned anything from the Middle East, it is that violence begets violence.
The United States claims to be a role model for the world, a beacon of freedom and law. If we send the message that unrestrained violence is an appropriate response, then how can we expect others to act differently? We all realize now we are not immune from violence. I don’t know how we should respond. But we should think about it rather than react to it.
As a people, we have long thought of war as dropping bombs from 20,000 feet and returning to home unscathed. Now we are learning it is massive destruction of civilian structures and a loss of many innocent lives. I hope the next time that our government engages in “surgical strikes” (as we have done in Iraq and Serbia) which inevitably results in “collateral damage,” we finally understand what this means. What the military refers to as collateral damage is dead civilians (many of them children), burned-out homes, destroyed schools and the absolute terror that this will occur again with the next air strike.
I am sick over the attack on my home city. But I am also sorrowful that this is part of the everyday experience of much of the world.