The plunging airliners, commandeered by
terrorists, ripped gaping holes in more than the
towers of the World Trade Center. They ripped away the
veneer of security that we believed surrounded us. We
in America can never again feel secure in the same
We were vulnerable before the hurtling planes
crashed into the World Trade Center, but we never
stopped to think that this could happen to us. Now we
understand our vulnerability, and our lives will never
be the same.
What madmen seek to kill us? Are the plans for the
next attacks already set in motion? Are there more
suicidal phantoms, coiled like cobras, in our midst?
We remain apprehensive with good reason.
Some Americans are calling for vengeance. But we
are fighting phantoms, and our military power is not
sufficient to assure an end to future threats. It will
not be so easy to find these terrorists and bring them
The best of America is on display. Heroism abounds.
Americans are coming together to mourn their losses,
to grieve, to comfort and care for each other, and to
begin rebuilding. All Americans have a piece of that
gaping hole in their hearts.
Justice must be done, and we need to find those
responsible for the crimes committed. But our response
to those crimes must be legal under international law,
moral in not causing the deaths and injuries of more
innocent people, and thoughtful in asking why this has
occurred and what can be done to end the cycle of
Vengeance may reassure some that our power matters.
But vengeance will not protect us. It will only create
more who despair and hate, more who are ready to rip
at the heart of America.
Until all are secure, none will be. The violence
could grow even worse because the weapons in our world
can kill so massively. Nuclear, radiological, chemical
and biological weapons all hover around us. Will we
take the necessary steps to end these
There are deeper issues that we must explore. These
include questions about who we are and what we are
doing in the world and to the world. In the end, our
only way out is to climb through the hole in our
hearts until we find our full humanity.
The only way we can mend our hearts is to recognize
our oneness with all humanity. For better or worse, we
share a common shadow and a common fate. We cannot
change the past, but we can begin building a more
peaceful and decent world today.
David Krieger is the President of the Nuclear Age
Peace Foundation. More articles by him may be found at
the Foundationís web site:
www.wagingpeace.org. You can write him on firstname.lastname@example.org
Martin Luther King, Jr.