Keenan Singleton Audrey Warren
Ruled by emotion
One week now.
One week since things changed forever.
Except things have been changing forever since forever. Our history
is replete with times of crisis when it seemed some unreachable nadir of
jadedness was reached, when America finally "lost its innocence."
In the War of 1812, British troops marched on Washington and set fire
to the White House. During the Civil War, Americans turned on
Americans in the most horrendous slaughter the world had seen up to
World War I was "the end of all wars" -- until the next one came. The
second one gave us the sneak attack of Pearl Harbor, the horrors of the
Holocaust, the cruelties of the Bataan Death March and the birth of
Just a few years later was the Korean War, a bitter three-year slog
to a stalemate which has lasted a half-century.
Then came the 1960s, the decade when it seemed America's innocence was
decimated. A vibrant young president was assassinated. The
country was dragged into another far-away war that divided the nation
almost as completely as the War Between the States had. The long
struggle for racial equality led to riots and burning cities. Two other
great leaders, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Sen. Robert F.
Kennedy Jr., were both assassinated in the same year.
The examples above are by no means mentioned to belittle the tragedy
that was wrought on America last week. For our generation, the
name "World Trade Center" will become our "Pearl Harbor." Something
about watching U.S. airliners filled with our own citizens being
deliberately hurled at our centers of commerce and government does
seem to take us to a whole new level of world-weariness.
We've had nearly a week to absorb the images and the shock. The anger
we all feel is palpable. We would not be human if we, at some
primal level, did not scream with bloodlust for the extermination of
those responsible and vow with steely fortitude to do everything, including
curtailing our own freedoms, to prevent this from occurring again.
Which is the danger.
Right now, for most of us, our emotions are in charge. And as anyone
who's ever been caught up in "road rage" can tell you, that's the worst
time to make a decision, especially an irreversible one.
The perpetrators must be brought to justice. The hows and wheres will
be decided by our leaders. Let us hope they are guided not by the
rage we all justifiably feel, but by a rational examination of what
it will take to do the job in a way that will also quell the longstanding
resentments that gave rise to these horrific acts.