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My heart goes out to people in London today, as many others have expressed.

Certainly, we're not dealing with the number of deaths that came on 9/11/2001, but I imagine those directly impacted and indirectly impacted are feeling some of the same feelings of fear and insecurity today.

Back in 2001, I was still in seminary at Drew, and doing my supervised ministry at the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns (GCCUIC), which is in the upper west side of Manhattan. I worked on Mondays and Fridays and had been into the city exactly twice before the attacks. I had thought I was pretty brave trying to navigate NJtransit and the subway, and feeling very wordly and sophisticated. But after 9/11, I basically never wanted to go to NYC again. I did, but it was hard, and I was filled with anxiety all the time. I hated being on the trains and subways. Once on the way home on a train we sat stopped on the tracks for over an hour because of an anthrax scare (turned out to be powered sugar or something like that). It was a long time before I could enjoy my position again, and my whole position at the interfaith agency was certainly shaped by what happened on 9/11.

So, my heart goes out to people whose lives will be forever changed by today.

And, I already have anxieties about what's happened in London today, that follow this line of thought: Who will be blamed for these attacks? How will the UK (and others) respond to these attacks? How do we learn to act without violence and hatred toward those who hurt us or who we perceive to hurt us and to teach this to others?

I pray for the peace that Christ speaks of to be upon us.


Who will be blamed for these attacks?

That's an interesting way to frame the question.
Andy B. said…
I think it is the perfect way to frame the question. The government of Iraq was blamed for the 9/11 attacks, if not directly then by not-so-sublte insinuation. It goes to the heart of the response to terrorism - is it prosecuting a crime or countering an act of war?
The world still hasn't decided between those two options.
- Andy B.
I think it's odd to ignore the Taliban government of Afghanistan and their support of Al Qaida. After 9/11 we blamed them pretty quickly, over the objections of some who wanted to attribute the attacks to others.

I do agree that the choice is between prosecuting a crime and countering an act of war. Maybe the world hasn't decided which course to follow, but I have. There's an election every two years. Make your case for calling the police; I (or someone more articulate) will make the case for calling the Marines. Presumably we'll both listen and vote accordingly.

I forgot to sign my comment above.

Tom Harrison
Anonymous said…
"How do we learn to act without violence and hatred toward those who hurt us or who we perceive to hurt us and to teach this to others?"

Well, Sanctimonius will call the Marines.

It strikes me that there are some of us (maybe not Sanctimonius, the comment just triggers my reaction to so many similar comments I've heard these past few years) who seem much more interested in punishing the evildoers than in preventing truly horrible things from happening again. I mean, look at this post; a reflection on sadness, sympathy, a desire for things to be better, and three comments in, "I'll make the case for calling the Marines." The London bombings are sad in their own right; they're also a flashback for me to the whole post 9/11 scene in the U.S.. There was that moment of sincere shock and sadness and desire to help those who were suffering, and it so quickly gave way to a much, much more powerful and more vocal bloodlust, a desire for retribution; kind of a throwback to the scenario of the raped white woman in the Old South, where a possibly sincere concern for the woman's "virtue" and safety quickly becomes just a pretense for "punishing" every black man who dares to show his face, hate given legitimacy with lofty words.

I'm not so naive as to believe that force is never necessary. I'm not a pacifist. But I think that we might want to get our priorities straight. I'm interested in punishing evildoers-- the events in London and the events of 9/11 were absolutely inexcusable (whatever justifications the perpetrators might give are essentially as hollow as the excuses of those lynch mobs). But I'm much more interested in trying to create a world where these things don't happen to begin with. Rather than calling the Marines and leaving it at that, maybe we can try to ask why these things happen, and what we can do differently to prevent it in the future. Asking those questions isn't "blaming America first," and saying that something happened for a reason isn't the same as saying that it was justified. The viciousness, the anger, the "we gotta get them bastards" just clouds things, though. It keeps from making the sort of rational decisions that might improve things (we called the Marines, Sanctimonius, and about 100,000 more innocent people are dead, and still no sign of the problem being solved) and it detracts from the sympathy and compassion we should be feeling for the victims right now.

I've rambled off topic. I apologize.

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