~ continued ~
We watched as cameras filmed people on the upper floors of OUR World Trade Center waving jackets & hanging desperately out their office windows, waiting for help. But those who saw the huge inferno that was raging beneath those floors, whether on the streets below or through live broadcasts, knew these people were going to die. We watched them & we knew they were all going to die. We witnessed in hellish horror as some of them, unable to bear the heat & smoke & screams, jumped to their deaths. And there was nothing any of us could do to help. Nothing. Tragedy took on a new depth on Tuesday. Our rage can't be anything but terrible. Our rage will nourish our will to act as we must, & I hope it remains long enough to sustain our will to completion.
At the same time, despite our anger & desire for the pound of flesh, the inevitable military response requires us to wait a little longer for the first big hit. It will come, but there's too much at stake for it to come prematurely. Far too much at stake for it to fail in its greater, massive objective. We can't, as inheritors of freedoms won through two world wars & guardians of a world we'll bequeath to our children & grandchildren, consider anything short of complete destruction of this decades old cancer of death. Osama bin Laden is the current head of the snake but he's not the body. The body is everywhere. Yes, it's personal. For me, it's personal; for thousands & millions, it's personal. And the response will reflect that point a thousand times over. Yet, bin Laden has masterfully crafted a machine of terror that also views its 'mission' as personal.
The Saudi ex-patriate has cultivated a platform from which he gives voice to a different kind of rage. He's orchestrated a network of precision terror that is not only widespread, deadly, & sickeningly effective, it's brilliant. This brilliance will surely be highlighted with a blood soaked exclamation point should the current suspicions regarding the stock market short trading (notably in the airline & insurance industries) by Al Qaeda brokers prove to be true. The ultimate stab to the grief-stricken heart of America. The barbarians who hijacked U.S. planes, slit the throats of stewardesses, hurdled terrified people, including baby girls, to the back of planes, & missiled those fuel loaded jets into buildings packed with thousands of people in the most horrifically cruel disregard for human life we've ever witnessed well might have made millions in the process. Those millions, presumably, are intended to bankroll yet further acts of terrorism. Brilliant evil.
We can't afford to screw up now. The Afghani men are seasoned fighters with dedication, will, & confidence. Veterans of victory over many, including Russia. And they have a populist folk hero at the wheel. The Saudi prince who came to fight beside them in the '80s and who is, in many eyes in many countries, "the Good Samaritan." That's a volatile ground, to say the least. Especially so since his influence (and MONEY) is widespread. It won't end with Afghanistan so it won't begin only in Afghanistan. There's a long list of organizations, individuals, & locales that are as much a danger, and in some cases, as much a part of, the events of Black September as is Osama bin Laden & the Al Qaeda.
Does anyone recall the recent "purging" in Afghanistan? The ancient Buddhist statues? Has anyone noted the organizations of Afghani women who were pleading for help? Some have been assassinated for their 'resistance' of 'Allah's Law.' Did anyone notice the implementation of public executions every Friday? That family members are often the executors of the accused & their 'good Friday' deeds are done before crowds of people? Does anyone realize there are American relief workers in Afghani jails because they have been accused of trying to "preach Christianity"? This is the world we're talking of and its harsh & rugged & severe in every way imaginable. Anyone who believes we're going to go into this with a seductively, high-tech air raid & be done with it is sadly mistaken. Anyone who thinks it'll be over any time soon is dead wrong. Anyone who believes this New War can be waged without destruction of the Taliban & its most favored guest without occupying certain regional states, without revisiting a few other KNOWN terrorists (we all know whom & where) with a huge 'Red White & Blue I.O.U' - & without issuing a lot of ultimatums to Middle Eastern leaders is misinformed. And that includes the oft interviewed 'ally' whose public career began as a commando who wiped out a village of men, women, & children, & whose election struck terror in the hearts of many & was, in itself, a destabilizing event in the region. There are so many fragile borders & complex dynamics we need to tread ever so carefully in the waters of alliance & diplomacy or we'll find ourselves mired in conflict upon conflict, and our now clear objective will become a great, bloody fog.
What of the many cards still to be played? Russia, China, Iran, India, Turkey, N. Korea - dangerous, unclear, but unavoidable. We can't afford not to respond to the war already declared. There's no room in the free world for calls of "restraint" or pleas to "reject violence" ... it's far too late. Been there, done that & we've paid a great price; with the blood of thousands. Thousands in just one deadly morning. And there'll be more.
Healing? Not today. Not yet. There was at least one day care center at the Towers. No one speaks of it. No one. I truly believe people can not deal with that 'reality' - not today, not yet. I'm sure many people heard of the infant discovered Monday night, still strapped in a car seat. Can anyone imagine this baby's crime? Or of the men & women who were cowering in the stairwell, so badly burned their skin was peeling off & their clothes had melted onto their bodies - when fleeing people tried to help them they screamed for no one to touch them & they remained in the stairwell ... probably waiting for death to deliver them from their unimaginable pain. There are so many grisly tales from the inferno; more than any of us can stand to hear. What of the rescue workers? The Firefighters, police officers, EMT, & the many volunteers on the scene? Can anyone grasp the horrors they have seen for days & days? They are trapped in a war zone filled with death & they can't leave. They pick up the pieces, literally, & continue to hope. In the end, they'll have no reward or satisfaction. Their objective, to rescue, can never be met. Post War Trauma ... far worse, I suspect, than ever yet seen. It would be wrong, selfish to seek healing while these sons & daughters lay in the still smoldering rubble. For now, we can only seek justice & strive to make a world free of such terror. Then, at least, the deaths of several thousand will have had a purpose, a meaning.
Forgiveness? That's quite a challenge right now. We must forgive but we just can't forgive those who've committed the unspeakable. But we can forgive others in our lives. Trivial things when compared to the transgressions of September 11 - we can forgive all the minor transgressions we've experienced.
We are all bloodied & wounded. We are shocked. Horrified. We are grief-stricken. We are filled with rage. But if we don't try to understand what has happened we won't be able to understand what will still happen. There's no gray area regarding the magnitude of suffering or the evil with which it was delivered. There's no gray area regarding the ABSOLUTE need for a U.S. led (I presume the participation of several European nations) defense that will cut down the enemy so thoroughly this 'network' will lay as an ideological Carthage. Perhaps bin Laden's strike will prove to be his own Hannibal's Folly.
It's a dark time, to be sure, but it's been a long time coming.
The psychologist's advice to turn off the TV. & walk away ... under other circumstances, such as the O.J. Simpson travesty, I'd agree. These 'news events' can suck us in & take on new lives of their own. They can wear us down & waste precious time for living. This, though, is different. It isn't over. It is just beginning & it's terribly hard to turn away. ~ Elaine Federici