Back In The Cave

Permanent link to archive for 9/22/01. Saturday, September 22, 2001

You may have noticed that I have not written much here. Nor have I written much on my other weblog. I just have not had the desire to do much writing.

I guess the main reason why is because I don't feel comfortable. I don't have control over my emotions. If feel them all: fear, anger, and frustration.

Perhaps the worst feeling I have is uncertainty. I fear being lost. If I am traveling I want to know where I am, and I get very nervous if I get off the beaten path and don't know where I am.  Uncertainty is definitely the mode of operation right now. It's that uncertainty that is causing the stock market to crumble. We aren't worried that we are going to war, but rather we are worried about what is in the future, and that we don't know what the future holds. And of course, the President and other government leaders do not help with this when they warn that the war operations will take months and years.

So we do not know when it will end. It is hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel, and there is the growing fear that there is no light. We won't go back to where we were. Things will not get back to normal.

But perhaps that is not bad?

I went into last week feeling better than this weekend. At that time I think I had the false sense of expectation that come Monday things will get back to normal. Baseball would start again and people would go back to work. Like past catastrophes, these events would go beyond our attention span, and with it a sense of "out of sight, out of mind."

That did not happen. We have not returned to normal. When was the last time that every channel on TV had the same show, with no commercials? That happened last night. I thought the show was nearly perfectly planned... start with the Boss, talk about New York and have Billy Joel sing New York State of Mind. Yet, the event was not as upbeat as I expected. There was no studio audience, no applause after each performance, just silence. I started watching thinking it would be uplifting, and ended watching feeling very down. That in itself is not normal for a television broadcast of performers.

But perhaps that is not bad?

There is definitely a feeling of unity that I have not seen or experienced before. They're not just visible signs of flying flags and singing songs, I sense it goes deeper. My sense is that the people in this country have realized, if only for a moment, that they are all connected. This didn't just happen in that big, bad city called New York. It happened to US. This abnormal thing is good, I hope we keep it.

There have been idiots who wrongly accuse Arab Americans of somehow participating in, or condoning this activity. However, the noise from those idiots is being drowned out by government and other leaders telling us that the actions taken against us on September 11 are not based on the teachings of Islam.

If you watched the telethon last night did you feel Mohammed-Ali's anger? Here is a man ravaged with Parkisans disease, telling us that what they did was not right. He was not only angered by what they did to innocent people, but also what they did to his faith.

Perhaps it is time for us to learn more about Islam?

And then we come to what is ahead. The United States is taking military action. We are treating this as war. And I have to admit I am conflicted. The very male part of me wants us to go over there and kick ass. The pragmatic part of me says that doing so gives them what they want.

I was a weak ling when I was a kid. It was as if I wore a big target on my chest, as I was often the target of bullies. I was not strong enough to fight them so I was often afraid. I ran home in fear and cried. Then one day I was told something very profound.

Bullies rarely, if ever, pick on people to whom they feel superior. They almost always pick on people who they feel are better than themselves. When they pick on people they are trying to bring the targets down to their level, or lower, to make themselves feel superior. Showing fear or anger shows the bully that they are succeeding. If you really want to anger a bully you have to show them that their actions do not affect you in anyway.

I am not suggesting that we do nothing. I'm too pragmatic to think we won't do anything. And I agree with those who point out that this is not the first attack on us, and that in previous attacks we pretty much did nothing. So it would appear that we need to do something, and it also seems to me that some military action is warranted.

I agree that we must take military action. I whole-heartedly agree that we must pursue the money, that we must investigate and track down all the people involved. I agree that we need to strengthen the security at airports

But I also think there are some important things we must do, that have not been stated so far. We need to try and understand some of the reasons behind the terror, and we need to look ourselves in the mirror and realize that some of our actions may have contributed to this terror.

When the USSR invaded Afghanistan our country was outraged. But our historic short attention span came into play. We covertly helped Afghanistan resist and defeat the Soviets (and in the process probably trained Bin Laden) but when the Soviets were gone, what did we do?

Terrorists add numbers to their cause by preying on the weak and fallen. It is not difficult to convince a starving man, woman, or child that the reason for their plight is the United States.

You see death and sadness all around you, and someone tells you who to blame, what are you going to do? You have been forcibly removed from your homes, and see people being shot, and you are told who to blame, what are you going to do?

These actions to not justify murder. There is no action that justifies murder. But there are actions that the United States has taken that makes it easier for terrorists to rally people to their cause.

It seems to me that another way to fight terrorists is to work at depriving them of people to join their cause. That means feeding the starving and giving them hope. We live in a country in abundance of weapons, and also an abundance of food and clothing. We ought to be using those abundances in this fight as well.

The first thing we ought to drop in to Afghanistan is food to the refugees. We ought to drop fliers telling them that we have learned from September 11, that we are going to change, and that there is more coming. If our troops are going in to Afghanistan they should drop there first. Protect these people, and establish a base. These are actions, not words, that we can take to deprive the terrorists of these people that they need.

The biggest weapon we have against terror is love.

The one lesson we still need to learn, is that we are not only connected to each other in the United States, we are not only connected to Europeans, Africans, South Americans, Australians, Asians, and Israelis, were are also connected to Arabs and Muslims.

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