11 September 2001

Archive of Forum
9 September 2002 - September, 2004

Serendip was conceived as " a gathering place for people who suspect that life's instructions are always ambiguous and incomplete ... and hence need to be continually examined and rewritten". The events of 11 September 2001 could not more compellingly have made clear the need for such places. And the contributions to this forum over the weeks following, like conversations elsewhere, have illustrated at least the beginnings of how we can meaningfully share stories in a collective examination and rewriting of life's instructions. Those contributions have been archived and can be reached at 11 September - 17 September and 18 September - June 2002.

The conversation has, of course, only begun. Your stories/thoughts/feelings/ideas are even more important now, as we collectively try and make sense of the new world we find ourselves in, as they were in the shock and horror of the first year after 11 September 2001. Please leave them. Please, though, have them be your own thoughts and/or those which you think are important from those you know, rather than copies of things by others which are posted and available elsewhere (links to such thinks are welcome). And please include your name and email address, unless there are extraordinary reasons not to do so. We need to work together, knowing each other, caring about each other, hearing and revisiting each others' stories ... to achieve a story of which we are all a part.

September 2002


Name:  Paul Grobstein
Username:  pgrobste@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  a year later
Date:  2002-09-09 22:00:38
Message Id:  2575
Comments:
I wish I felt we had come further in learning the lessons of 11 September than I sometimes fear we have in the United States. I am encouraged by those here and elsewhere who have said clearly, and continue to say, that violence begats violence, that we need to find better ways to deal with conflict in the world, and that what is at issue is not simply "terrorism", on which one can make "war", but rather the much more complex and important human feelings and disagreements which underlie human discord. These need to be dealt with by finding ways for all people to feel a stake in common stories. I'm discouraged, of course, by the inclination a year ago by try and solve problems by a military response in Afghanistan, and still more so by the current distraction of a possible military action in Iraq. As was the case a year ago, we need to find ways to create and value the new and better things which can be made of our differences rather than to fight over them, both in the current debate in the United States and between ourselves and others around the world. Hopefully this forum can continue to be a force toward movement in the needed conversations, representing and sharing all points of view.
Name:  Chris Dietrich
Username:  marieandchris@yahoo.com
Subject:  Enough Day
Date:  2002-09-10 10:33:08
Message Id:  2584
Comments:
This email has been circulating about the internet and should be considered on this tragic anniversary.

Peace.
Chris Dietrich
September 10, 2002

Hello friends,
My friend Vyoma wrote the essay below entitled "September 11: Enough Day". In it, he presents an alternative vision to the mindless jingoism and isolationism inherent in Bush's "Patriot Day". I hope you'll take a moment to read it, and consider joining me in tuning out the pre-packaged media commemorations that trivialize tragedy by transforming it into infotainment. Find your own personal way to remember the victims of this and other tragedies, without the help of Regis and Kelly; without Tom, Peter, and Dan; without George W. and Dick. Don't let government propaganda and media opportunism dictate your experience of this anniversary.

Love, Dennis/rance

September 11: Enough Day
by Vyoma

Dubya, acting upon a joint resolution of Congress, has declared September 11 to be Patriot Day. According to his proclamation, we're supposed to"...observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities..." and to"...display the flag at half-staff from their homes and observe a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. EDT," this in honor of the Americans who died in the mterrorist attack.

You know, personally I think this just stinks to hell. I have a better idea, so I'm making a proclamation of my own, which of course is completely unendorsed by any US politicians I'm aware of.

I'm declaring September 11 "International Enough Day." Enough flag-waving, enough violence, enough nationalism. Enough already. September 11 was not an American tragedy, it was a human tragedy. It was a tragedy not just for the people in the US who died, but for every innocent person killed as a result

On September 11, let's say "Enough." No more killing. Let's remember not only the victims of the hijacked airplanes in the US, but of the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. Let's remember all the Israelis killed by Palestinian bombers and all the Palestinians killed by Israeli troops. Let's remember all the innocent people slain by Union Carbide in Bhopal, India in 1984. Let's take the day to contemplate the people who've been victims of genocidal warfare in Africa, and the ones who've starved to death because of political games as well. Let's remember the victims of the Holocaust and of the firebombing of Dresden, too. Let's not forget those who were slain in the Mai Lai Massacre. Instead of waving the flag of one nation and thinking only about our own dead, let's make September 11 a day to remember all the people who've died at the hands of someone else's political agenda through no fault of their own, and let's say enough. We should stand up and disavow this, no matter what country we're in, no matter what religion we are, no matter our political affiliation or status or race or anything else.

If we had a moment of silence marking the time of every atrocity ever committed in the name of nationalism, religion... every atrocity committed in the name of the artificial borders that try to make us forget that we're all human, all in this together, all fragile creatures whose lives can be snuffed out in an instant through no fault of our own... then we would never speak again.

So we here in America should, I think, observe September 11 as the day when the nightmares that humans around the world have been living with for decades came lumbering ashore on the East Coast of the US. We should see it for what it is; the day the US truly experienced the horror that rings like a bell around the globe, from South America to the Middle East to Micronesia, the day we joined the human race at a most profound and fundamental level.

There should be no "Patriot Day," no day to further emphasize that we're different. Instead, let's say "Enough." Enough of putting the interests of any one nation above the interests of the human race. Enough dwelling on our small differences. Enough killing each other over them. Enough hate, enough fear, enough hunger, enough violence, enough bombing, enough enough enough ENOUGH.

We should each find our own way of expressing this. A moment of silence... or perhaps a day of silence. Meditation, art, whatever it is that you do...

Do whatever you do, and do it to say ENOUGH.


Name:  Helen Rehl
Username:  hrehl@brynmaawr.edu
Subject:  9/11/01
Date:  2002-09-10 10:57:09
Message Id:  2585
Comments:
In response to Paul Grobstein's "loss of innocence" when Kennedy was shot, I thought back to Lincoln -- is it that America needs to lose its innocence every so often through senseless acts of violence againast its citizens? Is it that its people need be reminded of its own violent past against native peoples, against blacks, against waves of immigrant groups . . . No one is wholly innocent, ever. Americans are made of the same flesh and blood as all humanity, we're not "special" in any way, merely naive and unknowing about the rest of the world? Perhaps this last occasion for "loss of innocence" would serve to open our eyes to the suffering of other peoples around the globe (whose lives are in peril from hostile forces, from sickness and pestilence).
Name:  Diana La Femina
Username:  dlafemin@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  September 11
Date:  2002-09-10 18:57:47
Message Id:  2603
Comments:
Thoughts. You want thoughts, point of view, to be posted? What if I have none? Thankfully I wasn't directly touched by what happened, no one I knew was lost. But I knew people who did. Many, too many. Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, coleagues...the list goes on. And what do I think about what happened? I don't. I haven't thought about what happened since it happened. I've been numb the entire time. I admit it happened, I know all the facts, but I have no feelings on the subject except that I'm sorry it happened on all sides and I wish it didn't. I can talk about September 11 in a purly detached sense, as I imagine people will in 20 or 25 years. However, when I see a news broadcast or some talk show or other special on the aftermath, I tune it out. When my mother wants to make comments on it, I drown her out. I know I'm running from from my feelings, surpressing and all that psycological stuff, but I don't care. I guess I'm not ready for how I feel about what happened, I don't feel it's the right time for me to figure out what I think. All I know is that it happened, and I'm sorry that it did.
Name:  Liz Trabulsi '88
Username:  trabulsi@nycap.rr.com
Subject:  Alumna perspective
Date:  2002-09-10 20:41:57
Message Id:  2605
Comments:
It's all well and good to speculate on what drives people to do certain unpleasant things, but I see an unfortunate tendency toward oversimplification in your post, Prof. Grobstein, that is, to my mind, merely a mirror image of the oversimplifications that you quite reasonably oppose. Just as one should not lump all "Arabs" "Muslims" whatever into a group "Terrorist", one must avoid rationalizing all behavior to the point of rendering oneself "Stockholm-ized".

As a prisoner, one is necessarily limited in the actions one can take - and identifying with one's captor is often crucial to one's survival. However, unless you are proposing that the US should become the prisoner of the OBL's of the world, a more calculating attitude towards defeating him and his kin is called for.

Whatever big picture factors one wishes to consider here, if one is unwilling to propose concrete steps that are achievable given the current factors in play (in this case, ALL the factors that drive our energy consumption, including political, economic, demographic, geographic, legal, social, etc), any concerted effort to focus on the "scheme of things" will inevitably and understandably be scorned as platitudinous.


Name:  Sarah Sterling
Username:  ssterlin@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Overcoming it all...
Date:  2002-09-10 22:00:29
Message Id:  2606
Comments:
As I think back on the tragic day of September 11, 2001, I realize that it was not only the aftermath of the tragedy that brought Americans (and the world) together, but the tragic time itself. For one moment, one minute or second or blink of an eye, every American mourned. Every American stood on streets or in homes or schools/offices/cars and knew that nothing would ever be the same. It is THAT moment that truly defines what September 11 is.
There are some people who have moved on. Some have overcome it all and except for the reminders that televisions blare at us daily, their lives have not changed much. People still steal and cheat and kill: the world did not change into anything further from perfect. For others, each day is the unimaginable.
I am fortunate enough to say that I was not directly affected by the tragedy of last year, but that doesn't mean that a day goes by without me thinking about it. That is why, on this anniversary of the unbelievable... believe. Take a moment to remember what you did, what you saw, how you felt. For one blink of an eye realize that nothing IS the same as it was before. If this is possible, if every American takes a second to remember, we may all stand as a country once more, together, and strong.
Name:  Katherine
Username:  krowe@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  politics, mourning and energy consumption
Date:  2002-09-11 12:01:42
Message Id:  2609
Comments:
Responding to Liz's very smart observation about the complex connections between US energy consumption and the politics of mourning 9/11:

What has been missing from the entire mourning process in the US has been a general call to take action on our own complicity with repressive regimes in the Middle East, by radically reducing our use of fossil fuels. It is impossible to imagine the current administration--with its long term ties to large oil companies--mounting such a call. "Just Say No to Gasoline." "This is your country on fossil fuels." But it is also impossible to imagine how the US could ever be seen as anything but greedy and hypocritical, in the Arab world, when we tout the preciousness of democracy while supporting the anti-democratic governments that provide our fix.


Name:  Faith
Username:  fwallace@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  This is not a political moment
Date:  2002-09-11 13:24:07
Message Id:  2611
Comments:
I do not agree with the use of the events of September 11th to talk about Politics. This is a day that should be dedicated to the memory of what happened and those who lost their lives and gave their lives.

When will Bryn Mawr cry?


Name:  whitney
Username:  geminive@aol.com
Subject:  nine one one
Date:  2002-09-11 15:17:32
Message Id:  2623
Comments:
Exactly a year ago I was driving to school, in Seattle, listening to the radio, when the news broke. I remember thinking that I needed to remember all of the events of that day, so I could tell my children one day when they asked. Walking through the halls on my way to French, I could feel the history then- I could see the textbook pages. I cannot believe it has been a year since then; it seems as though we continue to refer to it as if it was yesterday, as if we're not ready to allow the day to become a part of our nation's collective past. There are many debates surrounding the day and its aftermath, and upon those I hesitate to touch, for fear of sounding redundant (and, even worse, uninformed). So I will say this: we are not done with our learning nor our mourning, but we have done too little of the former and too commercially the latter. When we teach our children about that day, I hope we are able to communicate to them not the anger felt by our country, but the great hope we found in each other and in the solidarity that was so fervent.
Name:  mark lord
Username:  mlord@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  to light a candle AND curse the darkness
Date:  2002-09-11 15:45:07
Message Id:  2626
Comments:
One thing that was moving about the days after the attacks, and about the way this forum functioned then, was the basic (though not universal) agreement that we were all sorting through our own personal rubble in the best ways we could. Some wept. Some raged. Some were numb. Everyone was responding and mostly everyone recognized that.

A year later, some weep, some rage, some are numb...and out of our numbness, rage, and tears, some have begun try to reimagine the world in ways that might spare our children the experiences that all of us lived through together. These reimaginings are all flawed and incomplete. Whether they are political programs or architectural renderings for redevelopment, none of them address the scale of the damage that we perceive. None of them purge us (if we're honest) of all of our feelings of all that's wrong with the world.

But reimagining is as necessary a part of going on as is crying. Talking politics, designing another way to misuse downtown New York space, pausing to remember...all these are real parts of a real process.

I bite my lip and refrain from critiquing the media's processing of this process because I feel a nostalgia for the openness I felt a year ago and I want to commemorate the generosities of spirit and intellect that warmed the best and most healing discussions in that time.

I suspect that all of us cry. For some of us our tears are saltwater still. For others, it's ideas, plans, programs that drip off of us now. No matter. Let's none of us seek to own the mourning process of another nor to define mourning in ways that leave some of us shut out. No one posting here is trying to enhance the value of their brand name. All of us are working through (and for many of us, that means thinking through) the aspects of our situation that seem to us the most poignant, the most potentially productive, and/or the most urgent. Let's not devalue either thinking or feeling here; both are crucial.

I want to hear what everyone wants to say today.

The best thing is to light a candle and curse the darkness.

mark lord


Name:  Chelsea
Username:  clphilli@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Just called to say I love you
Date:  2002-09-11 17:27:03
Message Id:  2629
Comments:
I just called to say I love you
Not just so you could hear it,
Because I needed to say it,
Because it can never be said enough,
Because you need to know that my love is constant,
That it is not something weak that may be swayed by acts of anger,
That it is not something small that will be hidden by prejudice or fear
My love is boundless and unconditional and does not apply to one group or tribe or sect, it belongs to you all and I welcome you all with open arms to stand with me here and now and say "No" for the sake of humanity, for the sake of love, for the sake of us all, "No". We will not allow the anger and grief of a nation to be taken out on the most convenient target, we will not allow it to be taken out on any target. We will stop it all, right here, right now, and maybe that means we'll have to cry and weep and break down and face the pain, but at least that pain won't turn to anger, and afterwards we will stand together and with one voice declare that peace will win tonight.


Peace Vigil tonight on Merion Green at 7:30.


Name:  J Bessich
Username:  jlab49@yahoo.com
Subject:  Poor Arguments
Date:  2002-09-11 18:09:16
Message Id:  2630
Comments:
I suspect many of these posts are from college students, although it appears that Paul Grobstein is a professor; however, with age does come a way to effectively construct arguments so that philosophically they do not break down in the face of criticism.

There are many schools of thought regarding whether human beings are all born good, all born evil, or somewhere in between. Whatever one believes, and I believe the answer is somewhere in the middle, some human beings ARE evil. There are no two ways about it. Until you've proverbially "stared down evil," it's impossible, perhaps, to grasp this concept. Whether you want military action in Iraq or not, for whatever reasons, I suspect no one can justify that a man like Saddam Hussein needs to build more palaces, more artificial waterfalls, and allow his people to starve in a pathetic attempt to stand defiant in the face of economic sanctions. No man can jsutify testing chemical weapons - weapons that are intended for use on Americans -- on his OWN people. If Saddam cares so much for Muslims, as he claims to with his $25000 cash reward to families of Palestinian homicide bombers, why does he gas his own countrymen? So may we agree, at least, that evil does exist? Saddam will never be rehabilitated. Men like Saddam do want absolute power, and they are not restrained by a democratic people to keep tabs on that power.

Does violence beget violence? Well, sometimes, but not always. In most situations, a full scale war can be avoided with smaller dilomatic, political, and military pressure if undertaken at an early-enough stage. Hitler is a prime example. Had the man been stopped when he began illegally rearming Germany, had the man been denied Czechoslovakia, had the world resisted and not believed that appeasement was the answer -- yes, many, many lives could have been saved. But in the case of World War II, clearly violence stopped violence. An iron fist pounded the Axis powers; an atomic bomb, a violent weapon of last resort, clearly killed innocents, but saved many more lives as well.

Innocent casualities of war -- unintended deaths -- clearly cannot be compared to casualties of terrorism. Take an analogy: you are working driving down your street, your intention to pull into your driveway to protect your car. Suddenly, a child runs in front of your car. You slam on the brakes, but hit the child, and the child expires. Now, consider the same situation, only you see the child in front of your car, but can't stand that he keeps racing back and forth in front of your driveway. Therefore, you decide to ram your car into him, repeatedly, until he dies violently on the sidewalk. Question: would you try both drivers for verhicular manslaughter? How about for murder? The previous analogy helps describe the differences between the American offensive in Afghanistan and the terrorist attacks in New York. Our only intent in Afghanistan (and perhaps, in Iraq) is to dismantle terrorist infrastructure, and not to intentionally harm civilians -- just as our intent in pulling into a driveway is to protect our car from thieves or accidents that may occur in the street. If terrorists were not a siginificant threat to Americans, we certainly would not, and should not, be in Afghanistan; however, since the threat is real and severe, we demand that our government protect us in this way. As an added bonus, and I suspect had 9-11 never happened, we would eventually hear about the Taliban's racist and sexist form of governing in much louder screams that pre 9-11, we liberated a supressed people and returned to them their human rights.

Last, the anti-nationalistic and anti-flag-waving arguments proposed here are flimsy and arbitrary. Do you also oppose diversity in college admissions? How about affirmative action? I would suspect not. But in pushing an anti-nationalistic agenda, you tread a dangerous path to supression of culture, language, and tribe. If a family -- a large, extended family, perhaps even encompassing a whole town -- cannot with pride decide upon a flag that represents them and wave it in freedom and pride -- or decide not to wave it if they so wish -- then the democratic ideals upon which this country was build are all but dead. Extend this argument to greater and greater tracts of land and more and more groups of peoples, and by induction you've just created a country. If you don't want to mourn with flag at half-staff, and if you don't want to watch NBC commerate the event, that's fine with me. But humans have emotions, and sometimes a friendly face (yes, maybe even Regis) can help through difficult time. We don't all have bones of steel.

One more thing to remember: military action by a democratic country is infintely more justifiable than action by one which is ruled unfairly. The people, when allowed to speak freely, generally make the right decision regarding other human beings; the war fought by the dictator and his imprisoned subjects always results in catastrophe.

May God Bless America!


Name:  mark
Username:  mlord@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  poor analogies (re: poor arguments)
Date:  2002-09-12 15:26:17
Message Id:  2643
Comments:
RESPONDING TO J's ANALOGY RE: "Innocent casualties":

If we were driving our station wagons very carefully though Afghan villages, pausing to look both ways at regular intervals, then I would mourn but forgive the accidental deaths they might cause. To adjust your analogy: If I am driving a tank down the sidewalk on my street at 100 miles an hour when school lets out, are the deaths of the schoolkids I scatter in my wake really accidental? If I knew that it was inevitable that I would kill a certain number of kids with my car on a given trip to the grocery store, I hope that I could find it in myself to walk. Or stay home and eat crackers.

mark lord

J WROTE:
Innocent casualities of war -- unintended deaths -- clearly cannot be compared to casualties of terrorism. Take an analogy: you are working driving down your street, your intention
to pull into your driveway to protect your car. Suddenly, a child runs in front of your car. You slam on the brakes, but hit the child, and the child expires. Now, consider the same
situation, only you see the child in front of your car, but can't stand that he keeps racing back and forth in front of your driveway. Therefore, you decide to ram your car into him,
repeatedly, until he dies violently on the sidewalk. Question: would you try both drivers for verhicular manslaughter? How about for murder?


Name:  J Bessich
Username:  jlab49@yahoo.com
Subject:  
Date:  2002-09-13 20:54:20
Message Id:  2667
Comments:
Ah yes, Mark, but last time I checked our military wasn't drunk while defending our country. To drive drunk is a crime; to defend one's country is a duty. To get into your car, drunk, is to say: "I will commit a crime today, intentionally, and carelessly attempt to kill some children in the most heinous way possible, even though I know that if I do not drink, I could operate my vehicle safely and possibly prevent children from being killed while I drive." By not drinking, you take an extra precaution as prescribed by the rule of law. On the other hand, you might argue that even a sober operator's vehicle could cause death for a child. So, the situation begs the question: should we all simply not drive, since we could possibly cause death? Wouldn't it be easier to just all stay home and walk? Is one child's life worth the inconvenience? We probably won't kill anyone that way, so why not just be 100% safe? Or, Mark, maybe you actually don't have a car. Either way, enjoy your crackers.
Name:  J Bessich
Username:  jlab49@yahoo.com
Subject:  
Date:  2002-09-14 00:46:00
Message Id:  2675
Comments:
I misread Mark's last comment. I thought you had written "drunk" rather than "tank." Either way, my analogy to driving at all still holds. You'll never know how many kids you will kill when driving to the grocery store, even carefully. Driving ANYWHERE still stands a chance of killing a child. How would you predict when you might kill a child and when not? Would you consider all schools, camps, crosswalks, playing fields, neighborhoods, even the population of the counties through which you sojourn . . . ? By your argument, sir, you would still never drive. And what if you had to drive, for example to the emergency room if an ambulance is not available? What gives you the right to drive, when driving could possibly kill a child? Is the life of you or a family member worth more to you than a child's?

I still wholeheartedly believe that troops in general do take every precaution not to cause unintended deaths. If you have proof to the contrary, I would be very interested. But if your argument is simply that war is wrong simply because there will be casualties, you logic is faulty. And, I wonder why you do not defend the rights of soldiers as you do Afghan civilians? Is the Afghan life worth more than that of an American soldier? Surely they are also victims of what I suppose you consider a self-absorbed American government?


Name:  mark
Username:  mlord@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  probablilities and metaphors
Date:  2002-09-16 09:38:54
Message Id:  2707
Comments:
By my rough calculations, I have successfully negotiated approximately 2,000 treks to the grocery store, 5,100 trips to work, and several thousand additional trips to a variety of other locations near and far. I'm pleased to report that--despite (I admit) the mathematical possiblity of harm to a child--the juvenile population of the world remains unscathed by my automobiles. How many military actions can boast a record of "collateral damage" that is even remotely close to my driving record?

The point is to recognize the difference between behaving in a certain way while recognizing a statistically tiny danger of harm and behaving in another way that is *virtually assured* of wreaking damage. If you think that the military could get an insurance policy for its activities in Afghanistan (and elsewhwere), I'm happy to send them the name of my Allstate agent.

We may be unable to resolve our difference of opinion on military action, but the analogy you advanced simply doesn't stand up to scrutiny. All such actions inevitably involve collateral damage. Therefore, our national "intention" is best articulated as "to perform action X, despite the inevitability of deaths to civilians." While each specific death is not specifically deliberate, our government chooses to move forward with full knowledge that some such deaths are absolutely to be expected.

Even the Bush administration would concede that.


Name:  J Bessich
Username:  jlab49@yahoo.com
Subject:  
Date:  2002-09-16 21:03:09
Message Id:  2711
Comments:
Mark: You stated, "If we were driving our station wagons very carefully though Afghan villages, pausing to look both ways at regular intervals, then I would mourn but forgive the accidental deaths they might cause." One can only infer from that comment that in some way, you believe the military is careless and somewhat intentionally causing collateral damage -- hence the analogy I proposed earlier and the importance of recognizing the rightful basis for such military intervention. In your latest comment, you have changed the basis for interpretation to preventing any deaths, not simply intentional deaths. In the former situation (that is, the situation we were discussing), my analogy holds firm. Of course the military causes more deaths than you. That's not even a statistically significant comparison.

Now, you might be the type of person who opposed military action because it causes a death -- maybe even one. Maybe even a bad guy. But that's fine. That is not what it seemed like you were proposing earlier, but it seems your intent presently. Then, I must ask, again: whose life is more important? If all lives are equal, do you simply wait it out, while your own countrymen are attacked visciously and repeatedly? When do you draw the line? I would tend to believe you oppose American imperialism; do you oppose foreign imperialism through terroristic means? How do we stop these terrorists? I am often frustrated with those who lament about the state of affairs but tend not to propose any alternatives -- viable alternatives.


Name:  mark
Username:  mlord@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  metaphors and clarity
Date:  2002-09-17 10:41:14
Message Id:  2715
Comments:
J analogizes that the terrorists' actions are akin to a driver maliciously hunting down an innocent child and crushing her with a car. I don't disagree.

He further set out that US actions in Afghanistan are (with respect to innocent life lost) akin to driving carefully through one's neighborhood in search of a safe parking place. The whole of our disagreement is here. I think our actions are more accurately compared to driving a tank through that neighborhood at 100 miles an hour as school lets out. I leave the readers of this list and the families and friends of our "collateral damage" to resolve for themselves which is the better metaphor.

What J invites us to do is to imagine our soldiers in Afghanistan as careful drivers who are constantly checking their mirrors and proceeding with suburban soccer mom caution to avoid harming the innocent. The truth is that we bomb villages with remote control planes based on unreliable intelligence. The loss of wholly innocent lives is a necessary and foreseeable consequence of our government's actions. To seek out the comfort of analogy to cover over this fact is simply wrong.

If I had an alternative action in mind, I wouldn't hesitate to share.

But I will suggest that the pattern of using metaphors to sanitize our own understanding of our actions around the world has done a great deal to create a global climate in which we are incapable of understanding the perspectives of potential dangers.

Step one in the direction of solving the problem will involve describing it accurately and clearly.

That's all I have to say on the subject.


Name:  Paul Grobtstein
Username:  pgrobste@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  sharing stories as an alternative action
Date:  2002-09-17 18:40:04
Message Id:  2732
Comments:
Mark and J's exchange has raised some interesting issues to be thought about ... and itself raises an additional interesting and relevant issue: what inferences do we draw from disagreements? about people who disagree with each other (or with onself)? about the usefulness, given disagreements, of sharing perspectives?

These sorts of questions, along with related questions about nations, and tribes, and individuals, were very much on my mind when I wrote in this forum a few weeks after 11 September 2001. What I said then seems to me even more relevant today, in this forum and generally:

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.

It is neither "anti-nationalistic" nor "anti-flag-waving" to express concerns about particular directions one's country (or tribe) is taking at any given time. Nor is it appropriate in a forum of this kind to suggest that "there has been a failure to propose any alternatives". The forum itself represents a clear alternative: an invitation for all people to share their perspectives, not to assert their personal (or tribal or national) correctness but rather to work together to construct the "new story" which will make it possible for all of us to live in greater harmony and mutual understanding than we have in the past.

Let me reiterate my hope that we can "find ways to create and value the new and better things which can be made of our differences rather than to fight over them, both in the current debate in the United States and between ourselves and others around the world." And that this forum can contribute to that process.


Name:  J Bessich
Username:  jlab49@yahoo.com
Subject:  
Date:  2002-09-17 19:53:29
Message Id:  2736
Comments:
Since Mark is done talking, I guess I get the last word.

Mark seeks to argue that I am simplifying our military action to a metaphor, but not before he attempts to advance his viewpoint by metaphor as well. I hope we can at least agree that we're both intelligent enough not to lose the gravity of the situation in a simplified example. But such analogies help us compare issues in a more relatable fashion.

I'd love see some proof of the malicious intent of our troops in Afghanistan. I asked for some in my last post, but I only got unsubstantiated claims of how wrong my analogies are. If you're not happy with the type of intelligence we receive in this country, perhaps you should set out to change the state of affairs in the CIA. I certainly agree that we need more informants, even so-called unsavory characters at our disposal. Perhaps then our intelligence would be more accurate. But for what we had to go on -- that is, employing only informants with no human rights violations -- yes, our attacks are justified. It appears that you have concluded that you wish not to defend our sovereignty mainly because of person emotional response to innocent death. Which, as I stated previously, is fine. Having no alternatives for action is fine, too. But your argument would hold more weight with some, and I was really just curious if you had any ideas.

Now, on to Paul: I thought your forum was a good place for debate, and I am one of the largest proponents of free debate. However, if you have read some earlier posts, they clearly refer to the breakdown of sovereign nations and the abolition of flag-waving (Chris Dietrich's post which contained an essay, penned by a friend, on those exact subjects). As much as talking seems like a good alternative, I sought real action alternatives to our current military action in Afghanistan and possible future action in Iraq (results of 9-11). Talk is fine, but all talk and no action spells danger for our country and the world. Am I correct to infer that you oppose alternatives to military action? To portray my questions as not part of the so-called "new story" seems to indicate (sadly) that a difference of opinion is not welcome. One participant can state, "enough flag-waving, enough violence, enough nationalism" and not be reprimanded for advancing antinational correctness, but any response is restricted to the same ridiculous train of thought? Without diversity of thoughts, how can one ever judge the strength of his beliefs?


Name:  Paul Grobstein
Username:  pgrobste@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  the forum
Date:  2002-09-18 10:28:48
Message Id:  2745
Comments:
There are no "last words" here. Nor is it a place to "debate". And certainly not for "reprimand" It is a place to make available to others one's own thoughts/perspectives, and to take (or not take) from those of others what one finds useful in modifying one's own. J, and Mark, and Chris (and others) have all valuably contributed to the diversity of perspectives represented here, a diversity of perspectives which we (and others) can all use in trying to find/suggest new stories. So let's continue the process, not by challenging stories that are here but rather by adding additional ones and thinking up new ones that suggest actions which more and more people could collectively endorse.
Name:  Elliott Shore
Username:  eshore@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  A Resource to Arab Culture and Civilization
Date:  2002-09-19 17:01:07
Message Id:  2778
Comments:
I thought it might be of interest to those who are posting to this forum to bring to your attention a project that has been worked on at the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education (NITLE) that was prompted by the events of September 11th. It is a collection of multimedia materials on the Arab World, from history to popular culture, from the origins of Islam to Arab communities in the United States. These materials are selected, compiled, and annotated to provide a college-level introduction to Arab Culture and Civilization. You will find the site at:

Arab Culture and Civilization


Name:  Anne Dalke
Username:  adalke@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Diversity of Thoughts
Date:  2002-09-20 22:23:35
Message Id:  2813
Comments:
I wanted to pick up on J's query, "Without diversity of thoughts, how can one ever judge the strength of his beliefs?" by sharing some "diverse thoughts" I learned @ a forum @ Radnor Meeting this past Sunday. Our speaker was Dan Snyder, who is on the teaching staff at Pendle Hill . His topic was "Prayer and Peacemaking," and he offered a number of ideas which I found very helpful, and which I think are relevant--and I hope may also be helpful--to the conversation which has been going on here. Dan asked us first to imagine a diagram w/ two axes--the vertical one stretching from "prayer" to "activism," the horizontal one going from "inner" to "outer." (Wish I could sketch this here, but it's beyond my technological capacities....) That gives you four quadrants, w/ "inner prayer" and "outer activism" being the predictable ones; "inward activism" and "outward prayer" the surprises. Exploring those possibilities led us to reflect on the consequences of "inward warfare," and the ways in which, if that isn't resolved, our so-called "non-violent activism" in the world can work as a displacement, become a mere cover for and projection of self-rightousness and purity. (Walter Wink writes about this in Peace Is the Way ).Dan then sketched a second, similar diagram, this time w/ a vertical axis going from "conflict" to "peace," and a horizontal one going from "violence" to "non-violence." This also gives us two "predictable" quadrants, "violent conflict" and "nonviolent peace," as well as two more surprising ones, "violent peace" and "nonviolent conflict." Because Quakers (among others) often confuse "conflict" w/ "violence," they may engage in "conflict avoidance," and so preclude the kind of "nonviolent conflict" that can be so productive of growth and change, both as a model for the inner world and the outer one. But even more striking to me than "nonviolent conflict" was this notion of "violent peace," which might include structural racism or systemic sexism, social forms of what MLKing called "negative peace": not overt violence, but control maintained by pervasive fear and intimidation (this works in the home as well as internationally). The phrase "violent peace" gives me pause, makes me think I really don't understand the complex concept of peace, if holding to that ideal means that violent means might be used to enforce it. I'm trying now to imagine a space @ the intersection of all these axes, where our outward work is animated by an inner source, a reservoir of energy that acknowledges what Marianne Moore said "In Distrust of Merits": "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." (For yet another view, see Randall Jarrell's critique of Moore's anti-war poetry.) We are inwardly violent people trying with great struggle to become non-violent actors in the world.
Name:  Amanda
Username:  amandabuster@hotmail.com
Subject:  Power of music
Date:  2002-10-06 22:34:03
Message Id:  3179
Comments:
I strongly recommend the website of folk musician John McCutcheon to any musicians or music lovers reading this post. MP3s of a number of his songs, including the protest songs "Not in My Name" and "Our Flag Was Still There", are available for free downloading. He encourages anyone interested to distribute, learn and perform them as often as possible.

I have argued, debated and agonized over the events and decisions of the past couple of years, but although nearly everyone I have spoken with in private has opposed the administration's blustering approach to war, I could only find mute support for the president in public - except for an occassional apologetic, vacillating analysis, which almost more frustrating than unquestioning support. I grew up in the staunch Republican heartland (yes, my school board was THAT one - the one that tried to remove evolution from its curriculum); I hardly expected it to be the first place I would find dissent and outrage at a Republican president, but it was at a music festival in Winfield, Kansas that I first heard intelligent objections wantonly and exuberantly expressed. A crowd of 15,000+ bluegrass music lovers, local farmers, city folk and traveling musicians, shivering together on the first night of autumn, cheered and rose to their feet to sing out their hopes for peace.

What worries me most is that too many intelligent people are paralyzed by the weakness of their own convictions. Those of us who oppose - or even question - the direction our president is taking us should take our private concerns public, confidently and unapologetically. The Chinese writer Lu Xun wrote, "Silence, silence - either you explode in silence, or you perish in silence."

This list, the music festival, the protest marches held nationwide today (www.notinmyname.org) are all excellent first steps out of the silence. Keep walking forward!


Name:  Paul Grobstein
Username:  pgrobste@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  two years later
Date:  2003-09-11 20:27:31
Message Id:  6446
Comments:
This is, of course, a day to remember ... and a day to share in the pain and sorrow of those who lives were tragically altered two years ago. My heart goes out to them.

But it is also a time to reflect, on whether we have yet learned the most important lessons of that day, and to recommit ourselves to doing everything we can to reduce the likelihood of continuing and future human-generated tragedy, both in the United States and around the world.

My sense is that we have yet to appreciate that the tragedy of 11 September was a consequence of the estrangement of human beings, and groups of human beings, from one another, and that the only route to enhanced security, for ourselves and others, is the reduction of such feelings of estrangement and the circumstances that give rise to them.

As a nation, the United States is, I fear, pursuing instead a set of actions that exacerbates feelings of estrangement and puts us all at greater rather than lesser risk of the kind of human-generated tragedy represented by the events of 11 September.

Those of us who recognize the mistake need today and tomorrow, like last year and the year before, to patiently and firmly argue the case for wiser actions. Discouraging as the past year has been, there is no alternative but to continue to clearly and publicly stand for a belief in the human capacity to get it less wrong.


Name:  Craig Johnson
Username:  dirtbiker@cjauto.net
Subject:  September 11 2003
Date:  2003-09-16 06:04:07
Message Id:  6489
Comments:
An open letter to the public:

On September 11, 2001 a great tragedy happened, and I know you are all agreeing. But I think that the tragedy goes way beyond the lives lost, it goes way beyond the buildings that fell, it goes way beyond what all of you were probably thinking when you opened the newspaper this morning. The tragedy I am talking about is the love and compassion everyone lost for all human beings, and there rights that everyone deserves. Think about this, we invaded another country with our men, to kill other men, and yet we accomplished nothing, except to create pure and unjust hatred for most Muslims because of what a select few have done. Now, I am not Muslim I am a good old American, but everyday I watch the news and automatically see people jumping to the conclusion that Muslims must have been behind this or that. That is a very unfair and unjust way of looking at things; I think that we as Americans have some of the best colleges, and the most uneducated people. Most Muslims are very nice, very respectful people, who only came to this country to get away people like us. I don't know about everyone else, but I am ashamed of our nation. America killed thousands of these people to try and get there hands on an impossible target (Saddam Hussein, and Osama Bin Laden). We need to learn from our mistakes and quit judging all Muslims for the mistakes of a few.


Name:  Osama Bin Lden
Username:  Osama@Osama.com
Subject:  
Date:  2003-10-17 20:38:00
Message Id:  6908
Comments:
BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!!!!!!!
Name:  thetruth
Username:  knowyourhistory@educated.com
Subject:  education
Date:  2003-11-19 20:31:13
Message Id:  7341
Comments:
on september 11.2001 america was attacked not by peace loving muslums flying daisies into americas most powerful symbols, but by fanatical, women hating, peace hating, and freedom hating muslums. to understand why anyone would want to conceive much less exicute this unwarented act, you must understand islam. we can judge islam with the same criteria that all religeons, governments, and sociatal institutions are judged. by their deeds. where in the islamic world is education, freedom of thought, respect for ALL people, respect for truth, and equality cherished. the simple fact is they are not. the simple fact is freedom, equality, and truth are the enemy of islam in its current practiced for. more books are translated into dutch, every year than have ever been translated into arabic. why? because the kor'an teaches that the only book a muslum needs is the kor'an. the iotolas, madrasas, spiritual leaders, in fact despise the west, christianity, and judiaism. they threaten the dictatorships from the mediteranian to the pacific islands. islam is not by the fruits it bears a moral or decent religeon, fact is the only place a moral muslum can worship a peacefull allah, is hear in the land of the free and the home of the brave. the country who liberated europe twice in the last century, and has finnaly quieted 2000 years of blood soaked history. how by destoying facism and communism. now we are engaged in another battle. one for the basic human rights God has bestowed upon us. if muslums are peace loving why do the mullas not stand up and decry terrorism is wrong, why do they not compete in the free market place of ideas. it is for one reason. there would be no place for them in such a world. thank god therefor there is a power in this world to offset evil, and that power is the United States of America, and we are benevolent enough to free muslums, and give them a chance at freedom at great costs in blood, and treasure. it is the billion people who practice islam who need correction, it is they who have stayed from the truth of gods love, and it is they who need education. America, and the American Military who will be there teachers. God Bless the men and women of the armed forces, and God bless the U.S.A.
Name:  tinbox7@aol.com
Username:  tinbox7@aol.com
Subject:  american hypocriscy
Date:  2004-02-03 19:44:52
Message Id:  7950
Comments:
america has started 21 wars overtly,supplied weaponary to many a tyrant,how many deaths has that barbaric nation caused????..Then they are concieted enough to wonder "Why Us",well have a look at the bombs youve killed many a child ,civilian with...Life is precious ,somehow the Yanks think thiers is worth more than others...Sick of thier muderous thieving ways.....They are a barbaric,ignorant,arrogrant,meaningless society.....Peter Williams from London,brother often goes to States there now,so get to hear how dumb the average septic is...........

Date:  2004-03-15 18:48:37
Message Id:  8750
Comments:
Name:  Haider
Username:  KararAlsaady@hotmail.com
Subject:  My Country
Date:  2004-04-27 06:30:28
Message Id:  9634
Comments:
HI My name is Haider Falah-Hassan and I come from Iraq I have all my family and friends there and my grandfather and grand mother died a couple of weeks a go from the blasts it was giving them heart attacks.I feel very angry and lonley and scared I don't know whether I should cry all day and night or just get over things and how they go I came to Australia about two years a go and I miss my family my friends the people I love it just isn't fair why do people have to suffer some ones else consequences and I wish that i could lay my
hands on that bush i will Stabb like someone should why does he go around killing innocent people and from the other hand he goes we are agaisnt terrorisom what does he think he is doing if he kills that means he is no terrist but if some one else kills one of his troops or defends his country he call them a terrirst he went to far and I wish someone would stand up to him and says"stop killing innocent people for oil"I'm sure he didn't go accross to the other side of the globe just to free my country he went to steel all the wealth of oil resourses and no one can stop him why?because he is George W Bush he won't get a way with it I swear to Allah he will suffer the consequences of his greed and sulfish act of his own.

P S :I want to thank this site for giving me the oppurtinty to express the feelings that i have for Bush within.
Thank you


Name:  Aaron Titus
Username:  writing@aarontitus.net
Subject:  Create in Bold Defiance
Date:  2004-09-10 20:24:12
Message Id:  10818
Comments:
    At 4:00pm on Tuesday, 11 September, 2001, I was finishing an architectural drawing class. I, with the whole human family, was exhausted and emotionally spent. After an hour-long lecture our professor, Julio Bermudez, instructed us to work on our drawing assignment. Homework of any sort seemed trivial and sacrilegious; I became quickly annoyed at his apparent callousness.

    Then he paused; and, in his thick Brazilian accent, began speaking to us as Architects. "Today we have witnessed the most anti-architectural act conceivable. We are Architects. We do not believe in death and destruction. We believe in life. We create. You are angry right now. But if you really want to retaliate, if you really want to take a stand and make a difference, then what better way to fight than to go out and do Architecture. Go and create, and you will retaliate in the best way you can. Now, go out and draw!"

    No more appropriate words were ever spoken. As Americans, members of our religions, and our communities, we do not believe in death and destruction. We believe in life. We create. So when I serve, I serve with a purpose. And when I create, I create in bold defiance of everything that is murderous, destructive and evil.

    My future will be bright. My life will be full. My world, no matter how big or small, will be better because I am here.


see http://www.aarontitus.net/htm/write/oneyearago.htm

-Aaron Titus
writing@aarontitus.net


| 11 September 2001 Archive Main Page | Serendip Home |

Send us your comments at Serendip

© by Serendip 1994- - Last Modified: Thursday, 04-Nov-2004 14:41:32 EST