Thoughts on the World Trade Center Attack
These thoughts were written to a friend in Japan who had expressed horror about the World Trade Center attack:
14 Sep 2001
Thank you, so very much, for writing to me. You have already said all there is to say: "We are still killing each other."
It is sad.
It is terrible.
It is unacceptable.
But, it is true.
The horror of what happened on Tuesday is so bad that it is hard to think about. People are very angry. They want to "Pay Someone Back" for this terrible thing.
But, that is just more of the same.
What we Americans seem unable to do, is to look at ourselves. We refuse to look at our own corruption and greed and cynicism, and realize how terrible we are, in the eyes of many people in the world.
We, who want to claim we are the "leaders of the world", are so greedy and corrupt that we can't stop the flow of drugs, traded openly, in schools and on street corners. We have degraded ourselves to the point that we have "porn" shops on every street. We encourage huge corporations to exploit as much of the world as they can. We export our "way of life". We dominate or eradicate entire cultures in the name of "business". We let insurance companies dictate our laws and our social behavior. We grant the privileges of traditional families to same-sex marriages. Our laws let our advertisers take over our computers and intrude in our homes. Our media distorts reality until it is unrecognizable.
We are a sick, sick nation. We are the product of greed, allowed to reign unchecked.
Your country had it's huge organizations, the Mitsubishi's and many others. All countries have had them, but they were never able to take over the world. It is America that perfected that horror.
Does this justify what someone did last Tuesday morning, at the World Trade Center.
But, it does give us a tiny clue as to where we have to look for a solution.
We have to clean our own house.
If we want to be a "leader of the world", we need to lead. We need to set an example ... an example of love, and support, and help for humans all over the world ... an example of love and respect for the nature which surrounds us and nurtures us and makes our existence possible ... an example of humility and modesty and gentleness.
Yes, we should seek out those who perpetrated this outrage. If we can prove they were responsible, we should punish them.
But that will do nothing to improve the situation. It will not stop the horror and the grief and the pain Tuesday's incident inflicted on Americans, and the rest of the world.
The only thing that will ever help will be to find ways to limit greed. We can't stop it, but we need to find ways to make it less productive.
There's an easy way to do that. It's not painful, or even unpleasant. But I doubt that the American people have the political will, and the courage, and the understanding to ever do it. If I knew anyone who would listen, I'd describe it. I sent it to a senator once, but he really didn't want to hear it.
One other thing, Eri. Never lose sight of the power of the American "media". Their ability to manipulate public opinion is incredible. The fact that this happened in America does not make the people any more dead than bombings in London, or the horrible poisonings in the Tokyo subways.
We have managed to turn a terrible catastrophe into a "media event". And, for me to even mention how cynical and callous these people are, makes me a terrible person. I'm not sure how much of it you were able to see (or, should I say, forced to watch) but the public officials rushing to take advantage of the "photo ops" (photo opportunities), the announcers with their fake worry and concern (which will have a new target as soon as this one is done), the companies getting their names on the air and in the paper with their "donations", make me physically ill. Those were real people that died, it is real families that have been left in pain and grief. People who capitalize on such a horrible event are disgusting. And, that, dear Eri, is what excess greed has done to my country.
No, Eri. Killing more people will not solve anything. And you're absolutely right, innocent people are bound to killed and maimed in any conflict. It certainly will NOT make a better world.
Right now, world peace does seem like it is far away.
But maybe, just maybe, this terrible event will allow one tiny seed of good-will to sprout and grow.
All we can do, I think, is talk. Talk to our friends, talk to anyone who will listen, and try to persuade them that, if they want to cure the problem, they MUST look at it's cause.
I'm sorry, Eri. I rushed in writing this, and it is not very well done. I know I should take my time and compose it with a lot of care and thought, but I was anxious to respond to your letter.
Thank you, again, for writing.
I wish I knew the secret of your personality. If only other people could absorb your gentleness, the world would quickly become a better place to live.