Future still with ballots, not bullets
September 15, 2001
When tragedy happens as it has this week in New York and Washington, D.C., priorities change.
Our preoccupation with the material, so aptly represented by the World Trade Center, suddenly seems unimportant. Relationships become the focus of our attention.
One survivor said, "I'm 32 years old, and tonight all I want to do is sleep with my mother."
Mother represents comfort and safety. The desire to return to childhood when parents were our powerful protectors is understandable. I hope she found that comfort.
I remember about 10 years ago standing in the inner tunnels of a powerful dam which provides much of the power for the West Coast and thinking how vulnerable it was to terrorist attack. Security was in place, but for those who view death for their cause as a ticket to heaven, there are ways to circumvent the safety precautions.
A few weeks ago, an Orthodox rabbi prepared to return to Jerusalem, leaving his wife and all but three of his 11 children in the United States. He admitted to feeling relief, along with some guilt, that his family was safe while other families in his neighborhood were experiencing terrorist attacks in Jerusalem. I wonder what he thinks today.
A view from Palestine
Marthame and Elizabeth Sanders, a missionary couple working with Palestinians, returned to Israel to see the other side of the conflict, the Israeli reprisals against the Palestinians in the West Bank.
"This meant we saw sides of the current conflict thankfully absent from our home in Zababdeh. From a much closer and more personal vantage point, we saw terror effectively paralyze entire communities, the crippling punishments of an entire people for the actions of a few … people's faces gripped by fear and anger and hatred. … There is nothing like a year in the 'Holy Land' to restore one's belief in total depravity."
They communicated with family and supporters through e-mail on Tuesday:
"We are in Zababdeh, safe and sound. We have been watching the television with disbelief and horror for the past several hours. Many of our friends and neighbors here have expressed their concern and grief for the enormous tragedies today in the United States. Like us, they are stunned by the unfathomable loss, and we all wait in trepidation for the final tallies and for the outpouring of anger that will surely follow.
"We – and they – are also deeply saddened by the reports of Palestinians celebrating – not only because of the ugliness and wrongness of that response, but also because it runs so counter to the character of the people here whom we have come to know and love.
"Despite our many differences (cultural, linguistic, religious, political …), we are held together by a common humanity that today shares a broken heart. Please know that the thoughts and prayers of many Palestinians are with those touched by the horror of today. As are ours."
Rule of the law
Americans have felt relatively safe from terrorism attacks. We know now that it can happen. Our sense of security is shaken, but I don't see us being so frightened that we give up our freedom. We will continue to live by the rule of law, governing through ballots, not bullets.
We will not allow the barbaric behavior of terrorists to turn us into barbarians. The sister of a young man who lost his life in the collapse of the World Trade Center agreed that she wanted to see the guilty punished, but said, "I don't want to see innocent people hurt."
Evil will not win, said the Rev. Jay Horton, at the noon service Friday at First United Methodist Church. "Americans have been united and are united together for peace, justice and are defenders of our faith and defenders of our freedom, united in all that is sacred and held holy since the birth of our nation."