In the beginning I heard no words. It was just past 10:00 am and I was watching the color pictures on TV. I didnt hear the commentators voice, his speculation or his shock. I was deaf and dumb -- absorbing the pictures.
Stopping those images seemed impossible. They just rolled, and billowed like the smoke rising over Manhattan. They looped and repeated making our unaccepting brains believe.
Eventually, the words came flooding the system like white blood cells; attempting to heal. The words tried to cover the pictures -- cover the wide eyes, wide mouths, wide-open wounds, and open hearts.
The words beat furiously through the TV and radio, through phones and e-mails. Bush spoke. We had hardly grieved, hardly been able to accept the images as real, before the words turned to war. Words were sharpened to attack, to destroy, to hunt, to bomb, to nuke. To War.
War. Weve been talking about it for days now. We forget that words of war lead to pictures of war and pictures of war are ugly.
Reports of ugly words and ugly actions began to pour in: an Indian student at the Ithaca High School was beaten up, two men in Plattsburg, NY marched fifteen miles with a banner that read "NUKE EM." Everybody was talking. Everybody was writing.
I couldnt write, couldnt speak. I could only manage an astounded and profound "fuck." The words didnt really help until I attended a "speak out" here in Ithaca, NY. On Friday the 14th a large group of strangers gathered to talk, listen, and learn. The pleas for peace in the face of the medias war rhetoric impressed me more than the tears that by Friday were all too common. We decided to set up a table in the Ithaca Commons so that other people could express their feelings in words to be sent to Washington D.C.
Here are some samples of what they wrote:
The reactions of this nation to the attacks of the 11th are symptoms of the cause of the attacks themselves. Military retaliation is the perfect way to perpetuate the same hatred that is at the root of this. Peace and an attempt at understanding the other people with whom we share this planet will eventually heal these problems. Dont create more people who hate this country. Make more friends. Thank you. Trevor Ryan
The only war we should declare is an international war against ignorance! Violence perpetuates violence. Brian Boh
The horror and tragedy of Tuesday Sept. 11th cannot be removed or erased, but we have to believe that they can be healed here in America and across the world. I do not believe that violence against civilian populations, such as the refuges of the Afghani war who will be slain in an all-out retaliation, will only perpetuate tragedy, and will contribute to more hatred, bigotry and fear between our system and Islam. It is right to bring the true perpetrators to justice, but we must not settle for mere vengeance. Robert Aherns
I can only hope that people in positions of power will put the brakes on the insane rush to war. Those of us who disagree with war as a response should use any non-violent means necessary to oppose the war effort. Craig A. Rimmerman
The cycle of violence must stop. We in the U.S. are in a position at this time to be a leader in stopping the cycle. Violence will beget more violence which the world cannot afford. God bless America...not bombs! Stacy Bunkard
We need to create respect for other cultures and their "resources." The globalization that is so widespread means looking out for the interests of all peoples. Retaliation for "retaliation" is not the answer. We need to find Bin Laden but slowly and definitely without hurting other innocent people! Nancy Medsker
I believe we need to bring the terrorists to justice but other people in those nations need to know that God loves them too. Dorothy Manley
The innocent civilians in the Middle East are victims of terrorism as well. I pray that any war declared is not upon a country, but upon terrorism and ignorance. Sara Kotmel
One tragedy is bad enough. We dont want more innocent people to die out of some misguided need for revenge. James Fitzgibbon
It may be justifiable to stop the conspirators who committed this act and bring them to justice but it wont be justifiable to cause harm to innocent people. Bellicosity wont bring back the dead, eliminate our economic loss, or prevent a similar tragedy in the future. Paul H.C.
As cool as violence is, it isnt cool when real people die. Judd Curtis
It would be tragic if our response to this attack leads to more suffering and the loss of more innocent lives. I pray that we spread our compassion, keep our nobility, and find ways to reconcile and heal our world. Dont let us become as violent or as hated as those who attacked us. Pamela Goddard
The thought of retaliation disturbs me down to my soul! Life is a divine gift. Who are we to say who lives and who dies? Please dont confuse power or respect for love. Love is unconditional and forgiving. The people I know in this country stand for love. I wish I could say the same for my alleged "representatives." Lets look at why this happened rather than how we can kill and call it justified! Now, that would be brave. Andy Boone
Taking innocent civilian lives is never justified, whether it is terrorist activity, nuclear strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; or air strikes on Afghanistan where the majority of the population have no newspapers, radios, TVs, or any contact with the outside world. These people have no idea that we are about to kill them. How can that be justified? Tom Freeman
No more killing civilians! Elizabeth Field Bauchnen
When there is pain in a body, it means something is wrong or out of balance. Lets takes this misery as an opportunity to notice what is out of balance, and not react with violence. Amy Whitney
I am certain that the mothers who lost their children in this tragic display of violence would not support more violence against other mothers sons and daughters. I am a mother and I pray that we will all, including our government, look deeply to find ways of creating peace rather than more violence. I am greatly dissatisfied with the response of the government and media so far since it puts "us against them" in an overly simplistic and unconstructive manner. No civilian bloodshed is acceptable or justifiable, here or elsewhere. Paige Krosby
Sending bombs to areas in which terrorists operate is like trying to put out a fire with gasoline. If we want to take the terrorists out of power lets overwhelm the Third World with help... lets ship our surplus food to them, give them medicine and clothing and put the American flag on all the boxes sent. See how much of a hero Bin Laden is after that. Lets wake up and act critically rather than emulating John Wayne. Peace and Justice for all. Jesse Mynn
There are more pages of words exactly like these. Today I mailed those words to the President as well as Senator Clinton and Schumer. I hope they are loud.
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