The images of trauma have taken me back to similar destruction and death that I witnessed first-hand in Central America in the eighties.
I am also reminded of the crash of Swissair Flight 111 three years ago that killed my parents. I know what it feels like to intellectually know that someone you love is dead, but experience the emotional torture of waiting for weeks for the first pieces of their pulverized bodies to be identified, then plunge into wrenching delayed grief. My heart goes out to all those poor souls who are waiting in horror for word of their missing loved ones.
Although I am saddened deeply by the events of September 11, I am not surprised.
The US government, and it’s corporate backers, have been the biggest perpetrators of terrorism causing death and suffering to hundreds of thousands of people all over the planet for several decades. These atrocities were funded with our tax dollars.
The media is also complicit. Why have we not seen images of bombed hospitals in Bagdad? Peasants tortured and killed in front of their families in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Chile, Haiti, El Salvador, Sudan? Mothers watching helplessly while their children die from lack of medicine in Cuba and Iraq due to US-backed embargoes? Why don’t we see interviews with those mothers so we can feel their anguish?
Let us vow not to allow our compassion for any of our brothers or sisters to be extinguished or reawakened at the whim of media manipulation.
We have to dig deeper, and ask ourselves harder questions.
Why would people feel such hatred toward our government and our economic institutions to carry out these suicidal acts of mass destruction?
How are the deaths of thousands of office workers any different from “collateral damage” in bombings of Iraq or Viet Nam?
How have we allowed ourselves to accept the sanitized versions of US-sponsored terrorism, both military and economic, portrayed in the media?
Why is it acceptable for the media to report how many Americans die in accidents abroad? Or for us to sigh in relief when no Americans are on the victim list in such accidents?
So much human suffering has been hidden from our consciousness for so long.
We have allowed our humanity to be blunted and selective.
Tragically, we are now getting a little taste of how our government has been treating certain peoples of the world for decades.
We are reaping what we have sown, knowingly or not. With or without our consent.
So what, aside from horror, will our response be?
Will we allow our neighbors and government to lash out blindly at ethnic groups who happen to share the same genetic pool or religious beliefs as the hijackers?
Will we feel justified declaring war and unleashing the full military power we possess on all suspected collaborators?
Will we feel indifference to the mangled bodies of the “collateral damage to non-military targets” when we move in that direction?
In other words: Will we participate in the perpetuation and amplification of the inhumanity, national supremacy, and racism which are at the source of these terrible acts?
Make no mistake about it: These were horrible acts which I deplore. I pray for the souls of those who have passed over, and I pray for their loved ones in mourning. But this is not the first time in modern history that massive terrorism has killed thousands of people. The majority of times, and the vast majority of casualties, have been caused by, or paid for by the US government.
The challenge before us is to rise above misguided jingoistic patriotism.
Instead, we must pray for and work for a major shift in American consciousness.
Please join me in praying that hatred, revenge, and war-mongering are replaced with compassion, understanding, forgiveness, and Peace. CP
Claire Mortimer lives in Kilauea, Hawaii