11 September 2001
Archive of Forum
In the days since 11 September 2001 it has seemed ever clearer to me that the tragedy of that day was an expression of a deep estrangement of groups of humans from one another, an estrangement so deep and profound that some human beings felt able to kill other human beings, and justified in doing so by their own visions of what is right and good. That this has happened repeatedly in human history is no basis for accepting it now, and certainly not for continuing it. The historical record should, with any thought at all, provide overwhelming incentive to find ways to stop the repeating pattern, and clear evidence that the possible ways that come most quickly to mind simply do not work. Violence begets violence; it cannot but enhance rather than reduce the estrangement from which we all suffer. There is no route to any degree of safety or security for any of us, or our children, or our children's children, until we recognize that estrangement of groups of human beings from one another is itself the core problem that must be solved.
For this reason, what we all need is to continue and intensify the sharing of stories and understandings and ideas. We need to talk to and understand each other ... not to forgive, not even to persuade, but rather to allow to emerge from our different stories and ideas the needed broader human story in which all human beings feel they are involved and in which all play a meaningful and satisfying part. We need together to conceive new kinds of meaning, meaning which makes sense of all of our different experiences and gives all of us a common stake in the future development of humanity. What security there is to find in human life, the assurance that humans will not wreak horrors on one another, can, it seems to me, be found no other way. We are, individually and collectively, responsible for our lives, and we must accept the challenge of finding ways to make them meaningful for all of us. It is a daunting challenge, a journey into unknown territory, but one we must take. Together.
1. The U.S./world should condemn the recent acts as cowardly, but refuse
to act in kind.
2. The perpetrators should be brought to justice *under international
law*, no matter how long it takes. This means increased intelligence
3. Instead of continuing in this morbid dance of strike-counterstrike, the
U.S. should contribute to peace. We should figure out an estimate of how
much a war might cost, then send that much money, or a large portion, to
the U.N. for their Humanitarian Affairs department. Or to use at their
discretion in the interest of global peace.
4. Civil liberties should not be curtailed in the attempt to protect us
from every conceivable act of terrorism. Instead, we should stop
terrorism by NOT MAKING PEOPLE MAD -- i.e. by killing people in other
countries out of greed or stupidity or spite. Stop taking sides in Israel,
stop starving children in Iraq, etc.
What do you think, especially about number 3? If you agree, please tell
me so and send the message on! Please let me know if you can think of any
viable way to convince Bush to do this. Please tell me of any other
peaceful alternatives to war (firstname.lastname@example.org). And please do what you can for peace. Tell your friends, demonstrate in peace rallies, make a sign for your window.
Most of all, start paying attention to what this country is doing/has done in yourname and tell them to stop if you disagree.
Calling this ridiculous act of revenge a WAR is only an attempt to cover up the fact that the U.S. is about to perpetrate an act of terrorism.
(former BMC grad student)
Ultimately the predominate force blocking peace is a lack of understanding
and a lack of tolerance for difference. Perhaps if more effort was dedicated toward understanding we could come to respect each other's differences and not infringe upon each other's basic beliefs.
we speak of loss of innocence...my innocence was lost on a kindergarten bus trip from the suburbs of virginia to the national monuments of dc...staring out the window as tears streamed down my face -- realizing in the midst of such national pride and patriotism we had literally abandoned AMERICANS to the streets...the estrangement than and now which was most devastating to me...was not that of the homeless men, women, children and families lost to the streets -- but the fortunate AMERICANS who walked by them each day secure in their ability to detach from these suffering human beings, AMERICANS who stood before them...
this past summer as i took the subway from my school in the south bronx to various locations in manhattan i was astonished at the transition from a world of color and poverty to the white world of power and privilege...
i in no way mean to belittle the incredible tragedy that befell our nation on september 11, 2001...but if we speak of estrangement how can we not be weary of continuing segregation -- new york city proves the most segregated school system in our nation...if we speak of loss of potential how can we not acknowledge our substandard school systems that force largely children of color and little means into academically inadequate programs that chain generations of families to a continuing cycle of poverty...and if we speak of justice and freedom -- how can we not acknowledge the overwhelmingly disproportionate number of black and latino AMERICANS who have been imprisoned and sentenced to death in our nation...
the generosity and spirit of volunteerism that has enveloped new york and our nation is this past week has been uplifting...but let us not wait for another incident of such phenomenal devastation for AMERICANS to unite against suffering and injustice...rather, let us remember ALL AMERICANS in our vision of justice and freedom...
in hope that future battles fought by and within our nation may be those in pursuit of just laws and unrelenting peace...
The cashier, whose name was Ali, refused to accept payment from this man. He called the entire store's attention to the fact that we were in the presence of a survivor. He called over his boss, who is a Muslim and introduced them. The Muslim boss and the surivor shook hands, misty-eyed. Ali, the cashier, payed for the man's newspaper and coffee from his own pocket. "It is my pleasure to know you, man." The boss nodded. The rest of us echoed.
In that moment, among the fifteen or so of us, there was no thought of retribution, paybacks, dead-or-alive "wanted" crusades. Not even a hankering for details of his escape or for stories of "ground zero." Only a warmth and a glimmer of hope. Perhaps even (and perhaps, even, dangerously) the return of an innocence lost.
It was one small moment in a week that has returned our attentions, again and again, to the worst that humans are capable of. I'd like to believe that this moment exemplifies a response that is both widespread and different in kind than the ones we are hearing from the talking heads we keep in the boxes in our living rooms.
I was grateful that the first speeches and thoughts I heard were at the Campus-wide meeting that Tuesday afternoon and not the mostly informationless TV commentary. I thank Rick McCauley for reminding us to step out of ourselves and look at the US from other points of view and to the students for providing an all too human point of view.
Amid the calls for retaliation and political unanimity, there are finally the murmurings of other possibilities. That we contact our President (email@example.com) and our congresspeople. That a hasty military response is not necessary. That we use our diplomats to listen and report back and not merely to convey the plans of the administration. That we can't expect nations to cooperate if we back them into a corner and embarrass them. That any US verbal and military attacks be directed not against a religion, but against the guilty individuals. As I see American flags sprouting up all over, I hope they are an indication that discussions from all points of view are welcome and our government will be listening.
Bush´s statement last night that all nations in the world either have to side with the United States, or side with the terrorists really scared me. During the worst of the conflict in Guatemala, the army basically said: ¨Either you join with the army and help us kill the terrorists (campesinos, trade unionists, teachers, students, church workers, health care workers, babies, mothers, children, grandparents, and a very few guerrillas), or you flee to the mountains, where we´ll kill you.¨ Basically, everyone who may have helped anyone perceived to be on the left was the target of the Guatemalan state. I´m hearing echos of this repression of a nation in the rhetoric of Bush.
I´m not sure what my point is exactly, only that I´ve been struck that killing Afgani civilans in now way is an appropriate response for killing US citizens. I keep thinking of all the Guatemalans I know for whom the murder of innocent civilians is nothing new. As a US citizen, I believe US lives are invaluable. I also think that Afgani lives and Guatemalan lives are invaluable.
from Coban, ALta Verapaz, Guatemala
Katie Gordon ´01
What is so utterly terrifying about the terrorists is their complete disregard for human life: not just ours, but their own, and the lives of Muslims everywhere, to say nothing of the lives of their innocent countrymen that they must have known would be threatened by American reprisals. They had an inhuman, almost divine disdain for humanity. Nor did they care about the damage they would do to the causes they espoused, although surely that would have occurred to them; they could not have been stupid. Nothing on earth matters to such men as that; in a manner of speaking, "they have no kingdom in this world."
Can there, then, be diplomacy? Can there be reason? Can there be a parley with holy warriors? The answer, I say, is yes, there had better be, unless we want this hatred carried through generations more. Terrorists will have to die; that is beyond dispute. They welcome death, and that makes them more dangerous than any weapon on earth. But innocent people have to live, and this is more than a humane consideration. A poor, ravaged people with nothing but hatred to feed on -- that is what breeds terrorism.
There will have to be armed conflict, and it's just as well for me that I feel that way, because there is going to be one. Who in the entirety of Washington could stop it? Rep. Barbara Lee? I don't believe so. I can only hope that it will be the right one, that it strikes the well-hidden, well-fed strongmen and their training camps, instead of their starving subjects. I am, however, not all that optimistic. The situation will probably be Guatemalan in the end.
Whew. I don't usually give speeches. Thank you and God bless America. Sorry to disagree, Katie, but it's good to see you on the board.
Amy O'N. '01.
If you find this idea a hopefully alternative to imminent military action by the United States, please consider signing the petition " Bring Terrorists to Justice via the U.N. World Court " at the web site: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/250808722 and forwarding this email to your friends and organizations interested in this issue.
To read more about the potential benefits of such an international response to terrorism, including an article analyzing the issue from the perspective of the discipline of Chaotic Dynamical Systems, go to http://www.brynmawr.edu/math/251/peace.html.
Victor J. Donnay
Bryn Mawr College
However, what happened on Sept. 11 has little relationship to our aspirations to do what is right. The terrorist groups who hijacked those planes did not just hijack aircraft - they hijacked the suffering and grievances of many of their own people to justify an act which has brought disgrace to their own religion and grave danger to their own peoples. How could this happen?
As a psychologist I have been interested in "mind control" and "cults" since the Jonestown mass suicide in 1979 (in which 900 people took their own lives or forced others to at the behest of a deranged cult leader) and have had several personal encounters with other groups over the years. Consider the Aum Shinrikyu - a Japanese cult with alleged Buddhist roots - which in recent years released sarin nerve gas in the Tokyo subway with the intention of killing as many innocent people as possible, after trying and failing several previous times to commit mass murder in the name of religion and "saving the world." Bin Laden's group operates like many "cults" in terms of recruiting, isolating new members, and so on in a list that duplicates in chilling detail accounts of cult life which have been published for years. I have checked out an number of web sites of people I know to be reliable and knowledgeable on cult issues, and find that they also consider this to be what is happening.
Yes, it's true that a lot of people in the world aren't happy with the United States. We need to do a lot of re-evaluating. But we don't need to believe that so many people hate us to the extent that they could all commit a massacre like the World Trade Center. That was the work of a group led by a man so dangerous that he had take refuge in a country whose government was recognized as legal by only three other countries in the world. The fact that so many Muslim governments are cooperating with US efforts points out that they feel just as vulnerable as we do. After all, Bin Laden also wants to take down every secular Muslim government - meaning for example Egypt, Indonesia, etc. Terrorism is a fact of life for people all over the world and has been for decades. This is just the first time it happened here, and was done so effectively.
Nobody wants a war, but there must be no more World Trade Center type attacks - not here, not in Europe, not in any Muslim country - and I believe that there will not be a conventional war. There will most likely be conflict and people killed in Afghanistan, but those will probably be soldiers - ours and the Talibin/bin Laden forces - and not civilians. Remember that the Taliban took over Afghanistan by military force and have systematically starved and terrorized their own people and reduced women to the level of medieval slavery.
It's important to keep a perspective. Turn off the television and think about what you can do as an individual to help, and by all means if you're old enough register to vote and make your voice heard to your Congressman, Senator, etc. The US is not a dictatorship - you do count. At this point it seems inevitable that there will be some form of military action, but it doesn't have to be another Vietnam. Speak up now about keeping the lid on military actions, and later on about changing foreign policies you don't think are right. Above all, don't give up.
Rachel Heckert, MA
Formerly of Ph.D. Program
Psychology Dept., Brooklyn College
These attacks made many Americans, particularly those who have been naive or ignorant of world events, realize that there are people in this world who do NOT love the United States, who hold so much hatred against this country that they believe the only effective way of communicating to us is through violence and murder. Not everyone thinks the US is the great leader of the free world. The issue here is not whether we will recover -- it has been obvious that we will -- but HOW we will recover, how we as a nation and people can prevent something like this from happening again. Before we decide to shoot missiles, pull triggers, and point fingers, we need to put the mirror in front of ourselves and ask, "Who are we helping when we do this?" Or more importantly, "Who else are we hurting?"
Personally I am against war, as it often brings out the worst in all of us. We have our rationale and our reasons, but we are uncertain about the methods, the enemy, the scale of the operations, and least of all how long it will take. As people around the world have learned, it takes a destructive and divisive act to both pull people together and to tear them apart.
A poem by Julia Esquivel that a friend sent to me sums it up well:
When it is necessary to drink so much pain,
When a river of anguish
when we have wept many tears
and they flow like rivers
from our sad eyes,
does the deep hidden sigh of our neighbor
become our own.
-from "Certainty of Spring"
Kay Yoon, BMC '01
Several of us have been discussing a way to counter the intention of the
terrorists and also help to make a small symbolic start at solving the
structural problems that have led to the current situation. Since we have
moved a major aerial force into a position to bomb Afghanistan, we think
the United States should use its airpower. We envision a huge flight of
B-52s over that nation, opening their bomb-bay doors, and salvoing --
parachutes carrying containers of food. It could be followed up by
fighter-bombers dropping some of our pre-packaged medical facilities, and
leaflets volunteering to supply physicians on loan to operate them.
This would have certain advantages in addition to helping the poor Afghans,
facing severe food/medicine shortages and suffering under Taliban
repression. An obvious one from our viewpoint is that food is cheaper than
bombs. Yes, the Taliban might try to maintain control over what is
dropped, but if it were widely enough dispersed the people would know where
it was coming from, as would the world. There undoubtedly would be
logistic problems to solve, but we surely have a military in a position to
This is not to say we should not continue to try to identify, defund, and
destroy terrorist networks, and punish the perpetrators of the recent
atrocities. But some move like this might make clear that the United
States will not indisciminately destroy innocent people to get revenge on
the guilty. At it might give us a good start on the sort of "Marshall Plan
to the World" that we and others think needs to be pursued over the long
term to help close the widening gap between haves and have-nots, clearly
one of the roots of recent terrorism. It might also help counter the idea
that the West wishes to wage war on Islam. And it surely would be a result
anathema to those who perpetrated the acts of Sept. 11 -- a stinging defeat
This may not be a good idea; and our government may consider it too
dangerous for domestic consumption in a nation still in shock from the
horrors of New York and Washington. But if you think it worth considering,
please circulate it to your friends so a widespread discussion can take place.
Thanks for listening.
An action suggestion similar to Paul's was made earlier in the forum by Paul E. Rapp.
When did you make such a decision,
to take over the mind of another?
Molding it into shape, as a plow moves the earth?
Twisting it so that both minds think alike.
That mind now has lost control, its thoughts now
belong to you.
Its opinions mean nothing, never to be heard.
This is where the danger lies.
That mind now belongs to a blind society with
madness in mind.
A robot to be led, then discarded.
It is such sadness that someone other than you
shall pay the price.
All because your decision became their decision.
A loud sound, the building shook.
"What's happening, what's happening?,"
as I stood up from my desk.
"Run," someone screamed "run!"
"Where?" I thought. My feet began to move.
Still not knowing had had happened.
I, too, joined the crowd.
Feet, pounding down the falls,
screams thundering through the air.
Lights out, I could not see,
smoke so heavy, I could not breathe.
I then stumbled, falling to the floor.
A hand reached down, helping me up.
Pulling, guiding me down the stairs.
The screaming has stopped. Where is everyone?
Where is the one who helped me as I stumbled along?
Where did we separate? Are they alone too?
"I am here, I am here," I cried to deaf ears.
My body in pain, something's weighing me down.
My thoughts turn to my loved ones,
thinking are they safe?
Why am I here, to be buried alive in a tomb of rubble?
Never shall I know when the decision was made.
One is never alone, as long as there is a reaching hand.
Mary Wilson, September 2001
May the tragedy of those who died on September 11, and of those whose lives were irremediably altered by what happened then, achieve meaning through an increased willingness of all of us to work toward a future in which every human feels they are a valuable participant in the ongoing writing and rewriting of the human story.
And some thoughts related to it ...
Since 11 September 2001, I've been thinking a lot about ... stories, and "tribes", and individuals ... and about "right" and "wrong" ... and about where we are as individuals and tribes and human beings and where we should go next. I admit I've always been uncomfortable with "tribes", be they interest-groups or communities or ethnicities or nations. Their stories have always seemed to me an effort to find comfort/security/meaning for those within the tribe at the cost (either deliberate or inadvertent) of comfort/security/meaning for those in other tribes. An additional cost of tribal stories is that they often painfully constrain the stories of individuals within the tribe. I've often thought, in the past, that we'd all be best off giving up tribes, and the identification of individuals with them, and moving instead toward telling a single human story, in which we all participate as individuals.
The wish above reflects this long felt and still held belief that, as individuals and as a human species, we need to abandon tribal warfare, and the associated wrangling about the "rightness" and "wrongness" of different tribal stories. Whatever value it may (or may not) have had in the distant past, the lesson of modern history is that it simply doesn't work. Rather than achieving comfort/security/meaning even for a particular tribe, it reduces comfort/security/meaning for all tribes and individuals.
But ... the events of 11 September and their sequelae (including stories in this forum) have markedly changed my feelings about "tribes" themselves. I've come to feel that it is the warfare between tribes, and not the tribes themselves, that is the problem. Indeed, I've come to feel that, both for individuals and for humanity as a whole, tribes are important. Each of us is working on our own story, our own way of making meaning for ourselves and, through that, of finding what security and comfort is available to each of us. But we need not be alone in that. Each of us finds others who are working on their own stories, and whose stories, while different, are similar enough so that we can valuably work on common stories together. There need be no loss to the evolution of the individual's story by working simultaneously on their own as well as a tribal story, and there is much to gain from the sharing of stories required for the latter. Similarly, there need be no loss and there is much to gain by working simultaneously on tribal stories and on a human story.
Some things do, however, need to be given up to reap the benefits of sharing stories (and to assure the continuation of the human story of which we are all a part). One is the idea that stories are complete or eternal. As individuals, and as tribes, we must learn and genuinely accept that stories are always in progress, that what is important is not being "right" but rather being continuously "less wrong", noticing and correcting what the past shows not to work. We need to learn and genuinely accept that virtue is not in defending old stories but rather in modifying them based on experience.
A second thing we need to give up is the idea that for own story (individual or tribal) to be valuable, all other stories must be "wrong". We need to learn and genuinely accept, again both as individuals and as tribes, that, at any given time, many stories are equally "right" (and equally wrong). Different stories need to be understood not as competing with one another but rather as gifts offered by each story teller to other story tellers, candidate stories made available for all to use in the continual modifying and rewriting of their own. This is no less true of tribal stories than of individual stories. The worth of both should be asserted (and measured) not in terms of their "rightness" but rather of their usefulness, not only to those in the tribe but to others, who evaluate it in the context of their own evolving stories.
The world changed on 11 September 2001, and our stories, including tribal stories, need to change accordingly. There is an enemy to be fought, but that enemy is not particular individuals nor particular tribes, nor the concepts of individuals or tribes. It is instead the deeper unwillingness of both individuals and tribes, of all sorts, to believe in the value of any story but their own. The new story we all need requires a change in all our stories, and a new commitment to allowing our stories to be altered by those of others, all the "others" who share a belief in the importance of the continuing evolution of the human story.
In the days following 11 September, I wrestled with my feelings about the display of the American flag, with my concern that it represented a tribal story at a time when what was needed was a sense of shared humanity. I worry still, as others should in their own cases, about whether my tribe will be able to rewrite its story as the current state of humanity requires. But I've come to better understand as well the relations between individual stories, and tribal stories, and the story of humanity. They are not independent or competing stories but rather interdependent and, in the best of all worlds, mutually beneficial stories. So ... the picture to the right. A tribal flag, in this case one representing a tribe whose story I have been a part of and will continue to help to rewrite, crossed with a flag of humanity, with whose story I hope we will all feel increasingly engaged.
In light of the events of September 11th I have only been able to feel divisiveness emanating from all forms of group identification. This divisiveness, I feel, comes from two sources. First it emanates from creating a situation that defines an individual as a part of an “us” and then (even though we may try to say otherwise) everyone else becomes by default part of something that is “other.” And once there exists “us” and “others” a hierarchy (a rating system of sorts) seems to be inevitable. Even without clear rankings, it appears to be easy to place blame on those who are part of an “other.” According to reports in US newspapers throughout this past week, media reports (print, TV and radio) in countries such as Pakistan have been regularly reporting that the bombings in New York and Washington were caused by “Jews” or “Hindus.” Of course, a large part of this is a symptom of what Dr. Grobstein calls an “unwillingness of both individuals and tribes, of all sorts, to believe in the value of any story but their own.” But, I would argue that those who blame an “other” do indeed find value in the stories of these others. It is of, course, just a lesser value, and therefore, it often becomes an excellent source to which attribute blame.
As a result, I am left wondering (regardless of how well or innocuously intentioned my motivations) if somehow I have contributed to the establishment of the conditions that allowed the events of September 11th to occur and that perpetuates the cycle of hate and blame. Today, perhaps more than ever, I want to hear everyone’s individual stories and would be happy to tell anyone who was interested mine. But my faith in the value of handing down any faith, creed or tribal affiliation has been deeply shaken.
Black and white? Sure. Tantalizingly so. But as James Lileks says, "I’m getting bored with having to proclaim I’m not Jumping Jimmy Jingo because I take pride in the good this country offers, and I don't immediately append a 30-minute codicil putting it the context of our atrocities of the Philippine war. " It isn't as if I have forgotten about the Sudanese pharmaceutical factory, the Middle Eastern bloodshed of the early '80s. It is true that previous United States governments fostered the radical Islamist situation, let Saddam fester, propped up bin Laden for Cold War purposes. Does that mean the deaths of 5,000+ randomly chosen men, women and children of various nationalities can be excused? Does it really?
Coming to a full understanding of this situation does not have to be the same as accepting personal and total handwringing responsibility. Nor is it the same as adopting the New Statesman European-intellectual "she was asking for it" viewpoint. In fact, researching and confronting the nasty underpinnings of this war is the most patriotic, American thing you can do. It celebrates the country where women learn to read, use their own computers, select their own books, and come to their own conclusions. That freedom is so much of what the terrorists hate. It isn't all economic strangleholds and American oppression — they genuinely hate our way of life. Just because they say it on Fox News doesn't mean it's not true.
I agree with what Debbie says: "I would argue that those who blame an 'other' do indeed find value in the stories of these others. It is of, course, just a lesser value, and therefore, it often becomes an excellent source to which attribute blame."
Yes, it is, and it does. That is because the "others" killed innocent people.
Amy O'N. '01.
Many of you already know who Boal is; for the rest, Augusto Boal is one of the most important dramatic theorists to emerge in the past quarter century. A Brazilian forced into exile by the military dictatorship, he is noted for his work with trade unions, the unemployed, peasants, other outcasts, work designed to use theatre as a vehicle for critical thinking along the lines espoused by his friend Paolo Freire (author of "Pedagogy of the Oppressed"). Boal has expanded his teaching to become a leading force in creating an international theatre movement working toward critical thinking, the development of community, theatre as a tool for healing, and many other functions, in addition to directing internationally and turning out a valuable collection of books of theory and practice.
----- Original Message -----
Subject: Augusto Boal's thoughts on the tragedy...
Boal's thoughts on the tragedy...
Date: Sat, 22 Sep 2001 09:05:07 -0400
TALION IS JUDGEMENT, NOT REVENGE!
Socrates asked questions: let us do the same.
War!!! Yes, the world is at war? at least, since I can remember, since I
was a child and heard my father, coming hurriedly back home from work,
announcing to our family: - "Paris has fallen!" Where did it fall? Who had pushed it? Why? What wrongs had Paris done, so hideous as to deserve it's falling? I could not understand, I was a child - war belonged to grown-ups, not to kids.
Last week, in New York, violence has been more spectacular than ever
before in History, more theatrical and graphic, esthetically frightening, extremely cruel, inhuman calamity: we were used to see such catastrophes in movies, not in real life. Pity and terror! That is why it became more visible than other cruelties that have devastated villages in Africa since always, murdered thousands of men and women in Latin America and Asia not so long ago, and in Europe, very recently.
The Madres de la Plaza de Mayo are still looking for their missing
children: every Thursday at noon, they walk in circle (what a dreadful symbol!), showing photos, talking about their children, as though they were still alive, ready to come back home, before night falls. High noon, every Thursday, they turn round and round... and find them not.
In Buenos Aires and in many other cities; in Argentina and in many other countries, Mothers of May are still looking for their missing, beloved ones... Granada, Panama, Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay - to speak only of my continent, only of the last three decades! - were also victims of merciless brutality and lost thousands of lives. Certainly, our own dictators have done it: but who financed coups d'Etat?
Looking at TV, seeing shattered New York on the screen, dialoguing with
friends, reading books, I cannot understand: I still persevere in
believing that human kind is human - or can become so, if we work hard to that effect!
But our eyes are seeing the very opposite: humankind is not kind, humans
are not human! Let's face the truth! Who has perpetrated that horrifying crime against Humanity last week? Whoever they are, the surviving criminals must be punished according to the Law, when
they will be judged, their guilt being established! This must be clear:
no one should be punished only because "they look like?" or "they are of the same kind?" No punishment should go beyond the person of the criminal, no punishment should touch their families, their race, their nationality, their faith.
We hear cries of revenge - an eye for an eye! - retaliation. We hear
about houses of prayer being attacked, innocent people aggressed in the
streets, in revenge for the destroyed towers, but? we must remember that the Law of Talion proclaims the need of a Judge to make Justice;
Justice needs a Tribunal; a Tribunal needs certitudes and seeks truth!
Truth is therapeutic! Talion is Judgement, not Revenge! Yugoslavian genocides are now being judged by International Courts. Even Nazis that promoted holocausts; Nazis, who killed millions of civilians and industrialized Death; even Nazis were entitled to be tried at Nuremberg!
If we want to have lasting Justice and not episodic Vengeance, we need Tribunals - no individual, no country, should make justice by their own hands, as it was done before the Law of Talion! We shall not go
back to barbarian times, we are civilized people? or want to be!
At the US Congress, as reported by the NY Times last Sunday, September
16th,congressmen are discussing the possibility of giving permission to CIA agents to kill foreigners in foreign countries; these killings would be done, of course, without any kind of trial, debate or demonstration of evidences, without any right of defense - killings perpetrated at the sole discretion of killers. CIA would be allowed to recruit common criminals to execute those assassinations.
Is that what is meant by the word "retaliation"? Does "retaliation" mean that the offended should become criminals, like the offenders? Should other countries do the same - since all countries are equally sovereigns! - should they allow their Secret Services to kill foreigners in foreign countries, including US citizens in US territory?
Should the Mothers of May become terrorists like the ones who killed their children? Should the Mothers of May carry grenades and not photos, bombs and not flowers?
Should the tortured political prisoners, all over the world, rise from
their graves, like the ghosts in the Banquet of Macbeth, and hunt their
We are living times of perplexities! Reason alone will be able to
humanize our emotions. We must think with our hearts, I am sure - that is the right way to think, the right way to act: with our hearts! But we shall never forget that we have heads. We are capable of thinking, of understanding.
Lawmakers in the US are considering the possibility of approving a Law to legalize Outlaws and stimulate assassinations. Socrates would have asked: what are you going to do? - Augusto Boal
my visit was peaceful and very fulfilling, but not uneventful in
the boring sense. when i took the train into hoboken, NJ (right on the
hudson river) on saturday, my eyes were glued to the quickly approaching
skyline. as the train halted to a stop at the terminal, i had a full view of
the now non-descript and towerless skyline of lower manhattan. i had thought
that maybe i would be reduced to tears, but instead, i felt a surge of anger
i hadn't felt before. i said to myself that i couldn't believe we were
robbed like this, as our eyes were half-closed, and that 5,000 people whose
only crime it was was to make a living for their families had to be taken
away. when i got off the train, there was a bulletin board next to the florist's
stand with many Missing Posters still there. a guy standing next to me said
to his girlfriend, "Yo, you know, these people., these relatives... they
have to let go. they're not missin' anymore."
the PATH train was different, too. above the doors inside the train, there
are maps of the different routes that PATH takes from NJ to NY. the maps had
been changed so that no lines went into WTC at all, obviously. it looked
strange to me. what also looked strange (but also comforting) to me were the
dozens of military servicemen and -women patrolling Penn Station and Grand
Central Station. some looked bored, others appeared nervous, and others
seemed calm and determined, chewing gum & socializing, but keeping a close
eye out on the people around them.
in union square on saturday at 5 pm, there was a peace-march
anti-military-attack protest that walked into the park right in front me. i
had my camera with me and took several pictures of the protesters, their
interesting placards and signs, and the mini-shrine that was established
next to the park's statue. for the first time, i felt like i was taking
photos of a piece of history, instead of any old event. peace promoters
actually have something to fight for, now that our state of peace is so
precarious and uncertain.
my saturday night was fun -- it was a belated celebration of my oldest
brother's birthday. later that night, as i was in a crowded and vibrant
club, i got to thinking about all of this even more. this club had lots of
comfortable lounge space on the edge of the dance area, so i had ample
time & room to sit down and have a drink or relax. all these ideas popped
into my head and i thought of things hadn't occurred to me before about this
entire tragedy. my brother was sitting next to me and i told him what had
popped up in my mind. the next thing i knew, i was crying on his shoulder,
with my hands covering my face. because of the loud music, i couldn't hear
myself cry very well, luckily. i surprised myself, because i didn't think i
would react this emotionally, considering the fact that all of my friends and
relatives in the US are alive and well. i guess i cried for our future, but i can't narrow it down to one exact reason.
on our cab ride back we passed bryant park and had a view of the Empire
State Building, lit up in red, white and blue. "once again, the tallest
building in new york," i said. in the glass between the cabbie and the back
seat, ther e was a sign posted. it read, "I am PROUD to be an AMERICAN and a
SIKH." i realized that the driver put this up there not just because of his
american pride, but for self-protection as well. cab drivers are at risk
even when there isn't a crisis, but being a cabbie AND a sikh after this kind of
terrorist attack must be downright scary.
i saw looks of bewilderment and relief cross the faces of passersby who observed the men and women in their army-green military uniforms. certain streets are blocked off to make the path clear for emergency and military vehicles, in case they need to race to a specific location.
i hear people talking of the "new normalcy" or "new routine" in our lives. i don't yet feel comfortable admitting that i'm now living in a new era, but maybe several years from now, i'll know for sure in my heart that Fall 2001 was the start of something different.
we have walked through a door that we thought we'd never enter.
BMC, Class of '01
Sadly however, though by no means surprisingly, there seems little indication at the beginning of the 21st century AD, that anything has changed from the beginning of the 21st century BC. None of the participants seemed able to accept that the views expressed by almost all the participants were equally valid.
Cultures, customs, nations, religions, come into existence, change, and disappear. To believe that our own path (whatever it may be) is somehow superior, by definition, assumes everyone else’s to be inferior. Not content with the divisions already in place, we go on creating new ones. (witness the rise of the fashionable, well meaning, but scientifically nonsensical U.S. and U.K. race industries)
Left to its own devises in a secure environment, a human infant, would learn to walk, run, laugh, cry, and acquire language. Considering itself to be an American or Iraqi, and believing in a particular God, (who all claim more or less the same message anyway) must clearly be taught, and constantly reinforced. Such concepts must create ‘us’ and ‘them’ divisions and invariably lead to situations in which ‘we’ seek security for ‘our’ group of human beings at the expense of ‘their’ group of demons.
If some terrible biological affliction really were to be spread throughout the world, and the only people to survive were a band of South American forest dwellers, or similar small and isolated group, the complete variability of Homo Sapiens would be preserved. For the great individual genetic variations, are present in every human population, however small, and antedate its dispersal into continents. There has simply not been sufficient time for the kind of divergence, which we like to believe sets ‘us’ apart from the rest of humanity. There is nothing particularly new or revolutionary about this, but rather than face it, we prefer to remain in a permanent state of cognitive dissonance. We fall in with the crowd behind our national, tribal, and/or religious leaders who we elevate to the status of hero, though none but a small minority have ever deserve the accolade.
Mick Furniss. Edinburgh. Scotland
George W Bush's Tribute on top of that song by Clapton was revolutionary, it brings a tears even now
There is a neat book that some of you might like to look at.. its called the 'Celestine Phrophecy' by James Redfield.
Our world is what we make of it, and our generation HAS to try.
| 11 September 2001 Archive Main Page | Serendip Home |