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Published: 2001/10/09

Our Forum For Healing Continues…

Suddenly, courage is everywhere. It bleeds from the pages of
newspapers, and cries up defiantly from mountains of pulverized rubble.
Imagine finding the courage to storm the cockpit of a passenger jet,
knowing it will probably speed your own violent end. Imagine rushing
into a burning, buckling tower of glass and steel to give aid to perfect
strangers. Imagine getting out of bed the morning after losing a
spouse, or a child, or a parent in a despicable act of mass murder and
going on with life. My heart swells with admiration for all of the
people who did these things, and breaks for their loss.
But like those people caught in the storm, we have all been called to
summon our courage. No matter where we were that morning, we are not
separate from the victims in New York and Pennsylvania and Washington,
D.C. We are their brothers and sisters, and so we owe ourselves
nothing less than a sober reckoning of our world, how we made it the way it is, and how to make it better. Let’s get started, shall we, before the bombs and the guns resume their
deafening roar.
Plainly stated, the situation is insane. Living under the right flag
inside the right borders doesn’t make it any less so, nor do mutterings
of how the world has ever been thus. Patriotism may be noble, but
patriotism is a lame excuse for ignorance, and specious historical
clichare even lamer excuses for complacency.
Are we truly prepared to resign ourselves to this cycle of inhumanity,
to a war without end, amen? Are we deeply content explaining to our
children that guns and bombs are legitimate tools for solving
differences, or dancing them awkwardly around the circumstances in which
it’s permissible to kill?
If we are not, then we must speak, and we must act.
I realize that it’s unpopular to knock a good war right now. People are
angry, people want action, and people are probably right. Benjamin
Franklin said, ‘Without justice, courage is weak.’ While I don’t think
he was talking about the kind of justice dispensed from a Patriot
missile or the muzzle of an M-16, I believe that we should and must seek
out the responsible parties and find some measure of justice.
But why do I even need to say that?
I need to say that because those who are speaking out in favor of
American introspection and examination have already been tarred as
cowards, just as those who opposed the Vietnam War were tarred as
cowards, and that is shameful. We’ve been swept into a riptide of moral
absolutism, a return to the rubric of ‘my country, right or wrong’ that
stifles not only protected dissent, but also genuine thought.
You’re either with us or against us, President Bush announces to the
world. Are we sure we’re prepared for the world’s response?
These are the horns of an ancient dilemma, the kind of dilemma that
topples empires. It’s myopia. We see the wasp on the tip of our nose,
all right, but we’re so distracted by it that we fail to see the
incoming swarm. And if we manage to detect the greater threat, sheer
panic prevents an honest assessment of why the swarm took an interest in
the first place. Perhaps our fight-or-flight response works best when
we’re able to conceive of the enemy as a monolithic agent of evil; it
shoves the prickly questions to a dark corner of the mind so we can
advocate violence with a clear conscience.
No matter. Our government, and our media, and most of our friends and
neighbors are wholeheartedly sold on this rubber stamp war-to-come, this
rhetorical prelude to an uncertain campaign of counter-terror and
shadowy killing. Sadly, it appears that we may have no choice but to
defend ourselves with force this time. But are we truly blind enough to
believe that a sustained War On Terror (a surreal, Kubrickian turn of
phrase if there ever was one) can ever choke off the problem at its
The best possible military scenario — one in which the far-reaching Al
Qaida network is unearthed to the man and either killed or deported to
face trial here in the United States — is as unlikely as it is
insufficient. The Al Qaida and Osama bin Laden are only today’s news,
the villains of the month; even the CIA acknowledges that there are
legions of others old and new, waiting for their turn to assume
But these are issues Good Americans aren’t supposed to raise. To even
deign to question the impetus for a good old fashioned war in this
climate, moralist William Bennett and others have said, is to capitulate
to the terrorists and diminish the lives of those who were lost.
How offensive to presume that the collective dying wish of the
Christians, Jews, Buddhists and Muslims who died in the World Trade
Center was a swift and unconsidered strike, an proportionate response to
something so disproportionately foul and inhuman and contrary to the
basic tenets of every major faith. Offensive, yes, but now
fashionable. And how do we know what the victims wanted, anyway?
Oh, yeah, Reuters took a poll.
Still others are saying that it’s un-American to question whether our
nation’s policies are sound, or right, or whether perhaps over the
decades those policies have seeded the new terror that has found its way
here. Why do they hate us? Shucks, they hate Freedom, of course —
that’s just how darn wacky them desert people are! We’re the good guys
and they’re the bad guys, and damn it, it’s downright treasonous to
consider the in-between.
Filth. Thomas Jefferson must be turning circles.
How offensive to suggest that to love the United States, one must
silently and dutifully accept every deed of its government. Offensive,
but now fashionable. And what constitutes fashionable proof of
patriotism these days? Hint: it’s stitched from cheap vinyl, costs six
bucks and change, and you can clip it on your car door.
It is one thing to fly an American flag from your SUV on your way to
your kid’s soccer match, but it’s another thing to stand alone in a
square in Islamabad, or Beijing, or Teheran, and wave it proudly above
your head. The former may be noble, but the latter is truly
courageous. How many of us would have that courage? How many of us if
challenged could defend our nation’s political and economic meddling in
the Middle East, especially in light of our stubborn blindness to
genocide and epidemic in Africa? How many of us if challenged could
defend our manipulation of countless police actions, land grabs, covert
operations and assassin squads on four (count ‘em) continents, ours
included? How many of us can see these policies for what they are and
truthfully say that we are purely benevolent world citizens?
Isn’t it possible to love one’s country and still want one’s government
to do a better job of promoting and nurturing charity and peace? Of
adhering to the good and great principles and values for which it
stands? If so, can anyone imagine a better time to commit ourselves to
the task?
To be clear:I am not a Utopian.
I am not a spaced-out flower child.
I am not anti-American.
I am not a coward, or a terrorist sympathizer, or a traitor.
I am a pacifist. And that is not a dirty word.
Yes, I believe in self-defense, but no argument will convince me that
the condition of war is anything but the festering rash of a diseased
world, and no amount of condescension will convince me that it is an
acceptable solution to our differences. So while I will honor the men
who we send to fight and die in our stead, I will stand with courage
against those who insist that war is just the Way It Is, and I will
stand with courage alongside those who seek to prove them joyfully
I will not shrink from the mission, though it may take lifetimes to be
won. Mine is the home of the brave.
Chris Bertolet ****
I was awoken by the voice of my dad
still groggy, I knew something seemed bad
the look on his face was unmistakable
and the grave news was unbreakable
he spoke few words but seemed sincere
I realized a sad day was here
as I scrambled downstairs to view the news
I knew the music in my head sang the blues
I watched in horror, stunned, in disbelief
as America was consumed with grief
it happened so fast, no one got a chance
to give that last smile, or have that last dance
it is times like these that we form a common bond
to feel what is right and to know what is wrong
and as these weeks have passed, filled with confusion and pain
America knows we are an unbroken chain
by Nick Grenda
I attended a bluegrass and roots musical festival a couple weeks ago. It was one of the best times I and everyone I was with had had since the WTC and Pentagon attacks. The feeling of togetherness we all felt was medicine for the soul. All who attended were well aware of what had happened yet no one let it keep them from having a great weekend. Seeing friends who I usually only see on tour or at show was a blessing. I gave all of them a big ol hug. If you get a chance to see a show and be with friends, by all means, do it. Friends and music is what will help get you through these times which we as a generation have never experienced before.
Keep music free and alive.
Eric Bullock ****
Its fingers clutch at a large chunk of my mind
This is a peace of myself that has already fallen down
It swoops down and crashes into my eyes
And all I can see is hate,
It rapes my morals and strips naked my conscience,
Raw I stand
In the face of the world
Hurt and broken
The world stands back
I wonder what this new age will bring with it
And if that chunk of my mind and peace of my heart will ever be the same again
Mandy Machold ****
In case you haven’t seen them yet, I just want folks to know that our columnists have offered their thoughts on these events- John Zinkand,David Steinberg,Jesse Jarnow,Rob Kallick,Mike Gruenberg,Lee Abraham as have I. I hope our poems and essays are helpful…
take care,
Dean ****
Despite the fact that we have suffered the most catastrophic event that we have ever experienced as a generation doesn’t mean that we should let it paralyze us. Life must go on; the shows must go on. I realize that the shock factor is one that will persevere for a while and the advent of war is scaring the shit out of all of us. I remind you that humankind has been through this before and we will be resilient and tenaciously pursue freedom, peace, liberty and safety for all of us in the upcoming months. This is a different world and a different time for American society and the world will never be the same. But, keep the faith, be optimistic and remember that we are all in this together.
Peace and Love,
Max Delaney
Uncle Sammy ****
I am at a loss for words, so this will be brief. All I can really say is that love will see us through this. My prayers go out to all of the families that were touched by this awful tragedy. I know the only thing that has made me feel better is being with people that I love and listening to music. Let the healing begin.
Peace to you all
San Francisco, CA ****
To DJ Logic:
You now have a permanent and special place in my life. I basically took last Tuesday morning off from work because I would not leave the Wetlands Monday night until you were finished. I worked at World Trade Center 2 on the 34th Floor and would have been there when everything went down had you not decided to just keep going & going & going. Mike Carmody, my buddy, overslept because he was there with me ‘til the end. He also works in that area.
I shook your hand when I left and I look forward to doing it again soon. Music holds a unique place in my heart and always will, but that night will never be forgotten and always know that your positive influence
and vibe reaches beyond any scope that you could have ever imagined. I hope your family and friends are safe and healthy and I look forward to seeing you again.
Peace & Love,
Greg Aiello
New York, NY ****
Last week felt like the longest week of my life. I was trapped in an office building for awhile three blocks from the World Trade Center. Pieces of the planes landed on my street. While everyone I was with got out okay, many did not and trying to deal with it, and having our business displaced has been difficult. The funny thing though is the one thing that seems to have helped is music. It’s been a comfort and has provided some strength. Today I picked up a copy of ‘The Word’ and for the first time in many days I felt a tiny sense of buoyancy and a small need to perhaps dance around for a second or two. I won’t be forgetting anything anytime soon, and don’t necessarily think I should, but if any musicians happens to read this, please keep playing and creating. You never know who you’re going to help.
Susan Craine
New York, NY ****
Never have I felt the sheer range of emotions that I’ve felt since It happened. From sorrow to anger to confusion to vengeance to despair to utter distain and everything in between…this has pulled me in more directions than a compass would dictate.
I watched a movie last night; I needed to escape, even if only for a couple of hours. And it worked…for the first time in days I was able to step outside things for a brief time…it was needed. I think we all need it, just that time to step out for a moment and let something other than sorrow and carnage wash over us. Many people have been reacting to this in so many different manners. Some have been able to pick-up the pieces and move on to business as usual. Others have not. I certainly haven’t. I’ve literally become ill by the events of the other day. I feel helpless. The need to jump in my car and drive to NYC has hit me a million times in the last few days, the only thing stopping me is knowing there isn’t much I could offer there.
These are wearisome times with events unfolding in an all-to-real manner this MTV generation is not accustomed to. It is the reaction I’m waiting and fearful of. To give peace a chance would be wonderful, but not practical. As unpleasant a thought it is, drastic times call for drastic measures. I just hope it happens soon so all of us can really begin to heal. I may not have lost a family member or loved one personally, but many friends have and no matter the degree of separation, my heart and soul has been nicked by each of their loses. It is unfortunate that this had to happen and even more unfortunate that it has taken this turn of events to bring people and US together as a country. But the solidarity brings a tear to my eye and I realize we truly are all in this together.
Unity, allegiance, loyalty and faith will see us through and in time we will all begin to heal and be stronger as a result. This has touched everyone in some fashion and my heart goes out to everyone who has lost someone close to them. Too many times to my liking I’ve tried to put myself in the mindset of those who were trapped in the WTC or on these airplaneswhat it must have been like to make the phone calls and decisions they did. It has brought me to tears every time. Nothing I can say hasn’t been said before by someone over the last few days, but I do know that I never again will take anyone or thing for granted. I am thankful for everyone in my life. We shall overcome. Thanks for listening.
Peace and love,
Steve Sylven
Boston, MA

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