Here’s what I wrote five years ago. I’d like to say that I didn’t think it would get this bad in America obviously I did:
“Like most of America, I was stunned by today’s terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center in New York and against the Pentagon. I’m sure that the sadness I feel for those directly impacted by today’s events is shared by the whole nation and most of the world.
There has been quite a bit of discussion throughout the day on the various news channels about who is responsible for the tragedy, what the US military response might be, and how soon such a response might take place. The anger that I feel is, I’m sure, no different than anyone else’s. We’ve been attacked as a country, and I would not be the least surprised to see an act of war passed in Congress tomorrow, even if the perpetrators be unknown.
At the same time, there is a profound danger present. What we must come to understand is that revenge is not about other people, it’s about us. Hatred usually defines us as who we least want to be, and because of that, it is in situations like today that we face our greatest challenges. We need to be very careful that our righteous anger is tempered by the wisdom to see that our hatred does not go unchecked. After all, hatred leads not to solutions but to greater destruction—many times destruction of ourselves by ourselves, from the inside out. (This is true personally and collectively, but perhaps I’ll save the personal end of things for another time.)
One example on a national level would be laws which greatly restrict individual liberty. We must make sure that our response is such that it does not destroy that which makes America great, or we will be doing our enemies’ job for them. I think it very likely that we will see a large clamp down on civil liberties in the name of “national security” and increased defense spending as a result of today’s attacks. Frankly I doubt either of these things is likely to solve the problems we face.
As we learn more about today’s events in the weeks to come, one thing that will remain constant is that which we owe our dead, our injured, and ourselves. And that is to be rational in our thoughts and increasingly calm in our emotional tenor. Our sorrow must give way not to thoughts of vengeance, but to a commitment to justice. In short, what we owe is the best we can be, and it may be the largest challenge we face.”