Letter to the editor- Attack is a tragedy
To the editor:
I awoke this morning to the news of the hijacking of four U.S. airplanes, the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York, and the partial destruction of the Pentagon in Washington. In response, President Bush said that we would find the folks who perpetrated this “cowardly act.” Sen. John McCain talked abut the need to examine our intelligence capability and our security measures, and said our lives won’t be the same for a long time (referring to the need for heightened security). Tim Russert of NBC News described an “unprecedented anger in Washington right now.” He said that we are at risk of becoming an armed camp resisting an enemy that we can’t identify. “This will bring some gratitude to the terrorists.” Earlier, a reporter in Nablus, Jordan described people “celebrating in the streets.”
My first reaction to the news was sorrow for the tragic loss of life and for the state of a world that produces such horrific acts of hatred. As I listened to the responses of our leaders, I prayed for someone to acknowledge the need to examine the causes of the terrorism. I wondered how the acts of the terrorists on those airplanes to give their lives in their cause could be described as cowardly. I wanted someone to raise the question: Why do so many people in the world hate America with such a passion? Why? Why? Why? And what can we do to change that? My prayers were not answered.
I was reminded of a talk I heard by the Vietnamese Buddhist priest Thich Nhat Hanh in which he discussed anger and its control as the key to achieving peace in our world. He spoke of nonduality – the oneness of all things. “This is because that is,” he said.
If we are only interested in protecting ourselves and punishing others, we will never achieve security. For example, suppose people somewhere in the world are hungry, and they see our money going to provide arms to a corrupt military regime that “supports” the United States? Are we truly interested in helping those people? Or, are we just protecting our “vital interests?”
In truth, America’s vital interests are the same as the vital interests of all people – a need for food, shelter, good health, security and love. We say we want peace, yet we spend billions of dollars producing weapons of mass destruction. We need to examine the thinking that leads us to build these weapons and give them to people to use. We need to examine the thinking that leads us to support economic development that is destructive to the Earth. Only when, in our hearts and minds, we are equally concerned about our planet and the well-being of all of its people, can we achieve real security for America.
South Lake Tahoe
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