on Pivotal Moment
I write this, it is 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2001. Already the
date Sept. 11 has taken on a distinct meaning, one which future
generations may remember alongside Dec. 7. Yet underneath this meaningful
date lies a dangerous spirit. It was present after Pearl Harbor,
just as now, and the danger is simply this: we know not what we
do. Pearl Harbor produced internment camps; it bred racism and jingoism
and military might and two thermonuclear devices dropped, according
to reason, to end a war but also dropped, according to emotion,
as a fist of vengeance.
know not what we do, at least not yet. In 50 years, will our grandchildren
look back at us and shake their heads at the blindness of our foresight?
Will they be forced to judge us in ways that will make us angry
that they are our posterity?
I hope not. I hope that we as a nation can understand that the answer
to violence, while sometimes violence, is never abject escalation.
The answer is never the pet project soapbox, the theoretical working-out
of the ills of modernity as the socialists attempted against
fascism, only to become the wolves themselves once the immediate
threat was gone. The chest-thumping is happening again, even on
the campus I still call home.
Real people have died. More real people will die in the days and
months to come. More ideologies will rise and fall than can stand
on the head of a pin and so, too, there must be angels. If
we can be those angels for one breath, for one blink of an eye,
maybe we will be all right. Our descendents will have reason to
praise us. And the fallen will rest proud in the knowledge that
we have done right by them.