Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Tomorrow, or today if you are reading this Tuesday, is the 6th anniversary of the suicide attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I still feel terrible sadness for the people who lost their lives and those who hated American citizens more than they valued their own lives. How cold and bleak their existence must have been. Even though I was consumed with rage at the attackers, I hoped that all of us could make something meaningful of this atrocity, take the circumstance and make the world better. Speaking to the Burns brothers in the last episode of their documentary on New York, Mario Cuomo was clearly moving in this direction when he spoke about a memorial to the victims:

"...I would like to see some depiction of all the religions list them all: atheism, ethical humanism, Catholicism, etc., etc. All of them. And you notice that each of those religions, these value systems, have two principles they share in common. And the two principles started with monotheism and the Jews: tzedakah and tikkun olam. [Tzedakah] means generally: we must treat one another as brother and sister. We should show one another respect and dignity, because we are like things. We are human beings in a world that has nothing else like us. And we ought to treat one another with love, charity-use your own words. And the second principle is: Well, what do you do with this relationship? Well, we don't know exactly how we got here, why we got here, etc., etc. That's for minds larger than ours. But we know that we are like kinds, and we should work together to make this as good an experience as possible. Tikkun Olam -- let us repair the universe. Now Islam believes that. Buddhism that has no god believes it. Every ethical humanist I ever met believes it. Those two principles: we're supposed to love one another and we're supposed to work together to make the experience better. That's all the religion you need, really, to make a success of this planet. And I'd like to see that in 9/11 somewhere. I'd like to see that captured somehow."

Those words are so inspiring, but they leave me dispirited because nothing like this happened in the aftermath. There was no Tikkun Olam. We didn't try to do something different, we didn't take the opportunity to reassess our relationships with other nations--quite the opposite. We followed the President into a war of choice--Iraq--against a people who not only had nothing to do with the attacks, but who have never done anything to us at all. We now face the reality that we are responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent citizens, for millions of refugees, for a blasted infrastructure, for an utterly broken state, for the deaths of almost 4,000 of our soldiers...and for what? How is anything good, or desirable, ever going to come of this catastrophe that was supposed to avenge somehow our catastrophe of September ll?

I wish, wish, wish I could say the innocents of September 11 had not died in vain, that their involuntary sacrifice had meant something meaningful.


Anonymous arnie draiman said...

how to do it?

by doing mitzvahs and tzedakah. yep. and then no one dies in vain.

simplistic, but that's it in a nutshell.

arnie draiman

6:41 AM  

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