(I wrote this four days after the 9/11 attacks. If only Bush had read it,
perhaps we wouldn't be in the mess we are today.)
TONIGHT, KIJ AND I visited one of Seattle's living memorials to the victims of the 9/11/2001 terrorism.
Firefighters had woven a fence out of willow branches around the fountain in Seattle Center, and people have been adding flowers, candles,
poems, and other writings in and around the fountain for days now. Among the thousands of flowers are simple children's notes expressing
sorrow and confusion, letters to missing loved ones, poems of loss and anguish and patriotism, ribbons bearing the names of lost flight
People wrote many things, but two responses to the terrorism are pretty consistent: Calls for vengeance and calls for peace.
We must not respond to the attacks on humanity as Americans waging war against any nation, nor
can we respond as individuals passively wishing for peace.
We must respond as a strong, healthy human race, as a species that does not abide psychotic
cowards who destroy innocent members of our own kind. This attack was a crime against humanity, not just some office buildings in
New York. Nations all across the world must join forces to capture every single terrorist and every single accomplice to terror.
The world must put every one of them on trial, then severely punish those found guilty. No one should be immune to arrest and prosecution,
including government officials. People like Osama Bin Ladin would not be nearly so dangerous without the assistance of governments, and the
officials of pro-terrorist governments are no more than accomplices to murder. People's representatives across the world must come forward
and identify their colleagues who are in bed with terror.
If America reacts with war against any people or nation, we will only spread the hatred of Americans,
obscuring the fact that this was an attack against humanity. We could accidentally incite jihad. This would be self-defeating, breeding new
terrorists against America and the Western world.
If we do not respond, we invite every would-be terrorist to murder more innocent human beings and
destroy free civilization piece by piece, starting with America.
But if nations all across the world join as one, united in our humanity and in our revulsion for
these acts of terror, we can stamp out organized terrorism.
According to research by Lorenz and others, the least effective behavior for an animal is perpetual
aggression; this stance creates fear and hatred and invites ever more aggression. The next-least effective stance is passivity even in
the face of aggression; this invites bullies who relish abusing the weak. Make no mistake - if we do not respond to these terrorists,
we will open the doors to escalating violence against humanity. To "turn the other cheek" does not mean to let your aggressor continue
to beat on you until you are dead.
The most effective behavior for any entity, from lowly fishes to civilization as a whole, is to
behave gently and cooperatively and generously at all times except when attacked, and then to respond appropriately and with such force
that the act is not repeated, that the cost is too high to attack you, that bullies stay away. Then to be a gracious victor.
We - humanity, the whole world - must must work together to eliminate perpetually murderous
individuals and entities, and America must clean up its image and foster civilization in every sense of the word throughout the world.
Every nation and every human being has a duty to promote our species' health and growth. Whenever we identify disease, we must do our
best to eliminate that disease. Then we must step back and find out what unhealthy behaviors we have been engaging in... what have we
done to cause this disease? Only then will we be able to stop organized terrorism -- only when humanity no longer fosters psychotics,
only when nations no longer behave so badly that psychotics find support from other nations.
We can defeat the disease of organized terrorism in our lifetime. To do so, we must first remove
the diseased elements of our species. Removing diseased tissue in any organism is painful and dangerous, but necessary. Then we must
remove the causes of the disease. And then we must move to the next level; no longer having to continually carve disease out of
ourselves, no longer simply ceasing bad behaviors, but learning what we must do to grow and improve every single person in the world,
every single cell of this ugly and beautiful organism that is humanity.