Reflections on the
by David Krieger, September 2001
The plunging airliners, commandeered by terrorists, ripped gaping
holes in more than the towers of the World Trade Center. They
ripped away the veneer of security that we believed surrounded
us. We in America can never again feel secure in the same way.
We were vulnerable before the hurtling planes crashed
into the World Trade Center, but we never stopped to think that
this could happen to us. Now we understand our vulnerability,
and our lives will never be the same.
What madmen seek to kill us? Are the plans for
the next attacks already set in motion? Are there more suicidal
phantoms, coiled like cobras, in our midst? We remain apprehensive
with good reason.
Some Americans are calling for vengeance. But we
are fighting phantoms, and our military power is not sufficient
to assure an end to future threats. It will not be so easy to
find these terrorists and bring them to justice.
The best of America is on display. Heroism abounds.
Americans are coming together to mourn their losses, to grieve,
to comfort and care for each other, and to begin rebuilding. All
Americans have a piece of that gaping hole in their hearts.
Justice must be done, and we need to find those
responsible for the crimes committed. But our response to those
crimes must be legal under international law, moral in not causing
the deaths and injuries of more innocent people, and thoughtful
in asking why this has occurred and what can be done to end the
cycle of violence.
Vengeance may reassure some that our power matters.
But vengeance will not protect us. It will only create more who
despair and hate, more who are ready to rip at the heart of America.
Until all are secure, none will be. The violence
could grow even worse because the weapons in our world can kill
so massively. Nuclear, radiological, chemical and biological weapons
all hover around us. Will we take the necessary steps to end these
There are deeper issues that we must explore. These
include questions about who we are and what we are doing in the
world and to the world. In the end, our only way out is to climb
through the hole in our hearts until we find our full humanity.
The only way we can mend our hearts is to recognize
our oneness with all humanity. For better or worse, we share a
common shadow and a common fate. We cannot change the past, but
we can begin building a more peaceful and decent world today.
is the President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.