American Government Must Live Up to Its Rhetoric In Wake of Terrorist Attack, United States Should Look at Itself in the irror

By Michael Levinson

My prayers go out to those with family or friends hurt, missing or killed today. I can only imagine what you are going through.

Walking around Georgetown and talking with a few students who had family injured, killed or missing because of the crashes this morning is something for which I’m not well-equipped. Even a hundred tears of joy at the confirmation of family members’ safety do not make up for one tear of despair. I’ve been oscillating between numbness to the smoke rising from the Pentagon and sadness for the person sitting in Red Square, crying.

I must to admit that I’ve been feeling a fair amount of anger as well. Not at the perpetrators of the crashes and bombings, whoever they may be. Though I condemn their actions with all my heart, I feel a sort of pity for a life that leads to a desire for a suicide that causes such pain. The anger is directed towards myself.

Maybe I should take refuge in the expressions of concern, the willingness to help arrange prayer services, the offer of a listening ear. I’ve always heard that terrible times brings people together and today I drew strength from witnessing such generosity of spirit in my fellow students.

But after the tragic loss of life, the saddest part of today is my continued willingness to walk around with my head in the sand. I see some elements of the media and authority reacting out of self-interested fear, devoting themselves to talk of punishment and aggression, terror and Band-Aid solutions. Violence is reaped where violence is sown. I’ve heard few courageous voices today. One was an 11-year-old’s voice, asking a question with sincerity and the willingness to listen, no matter the answer: “Why did this happen?”

I had no answer for that child. But admiration overflowed for someone to look up with their eyes and mind open. I know that if I had an answer, even a suggestion for that boy, he would have done anything. I cannot say the same about myself.

Perhaps it is just my naive hope for human nature, but I must believe that such horrific acts could not have sprung from positive peace or a just world. Thousands died today because of terrorism. But thousands of children have died every day for decades as the result of debt imposed by the U.S. and other nations, diverting money from much-needed social services and famine relief. People’s efforts to build democracy and a decent life in their respective countries have been thwarted repeatedly by U.S. foreign military policy. Our tremendous energy consumption has led to the degradation of indigenous peoples’ homes. The list goes on …

I find today’s events reprehensible. However, I find my own tendencies towards a bit of charity and a good night’s sleep just as terrifying. Will I, the same person so willing to give blood, be willing to raise his voice for the world’s marginalized? Will I limit my energy use, demand just practices from the suppliers of the goods and services that make up my standard of living?

Will I hold my government to the dictates of human dignity, rather than applauding rhetoric about defending “American freedom” and looking on silently amid economically motivated sanctions and bombings? Or will it be life as usual?

Though the majority of the world’s population faces the same situation yesterday as today and tomorrow, I’m hoping that I listen to the voices who cried out in pain this morning.

Somewhere inside myself, I hope to find the resolve to act courageously, and examine my life with open eyes and an open mind. I hope to create new ways of rooting myself in respect and compassion, not habit and complacency. And most of all, I hope to hold onto the resolve I found in the sadness and joy I saw around me today.

Michael Levinson is a senior in the McDonough School of Business.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.