Monday, September 11, 2006

On this, the anniversary

My son was about to turn one year old.

I was asleep in bed, with the television on.

My then-husband woke me with the words, "They crashed a plane into the World Trade Center."

The towers had not yet come down when I groggily began to watch the news.

It is hard to believe it has been five years since then; my son is nearly six and in school, George W. Bush is inexplicably still president, and I fear we have learned nothing except greater intolerance and fear.

This is a day to remember those who died faultless, in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is a day to remember that hatred of the Other and the Unknown brought about the original events. It is a day to remember that we are not invincible, that we depend not only on the friendship and might of our allies but also on the goodwill and understanding of our neutral neighbors. We would do well, each of us at the microcosm level as well as our nation at the macrocosm level, to remember that it is the peace with our acquaintances that most influences how secure we feel in our own homes.

Whatever you think you have learned about Muslims, about Islam, about tolerance or intolerance -- use today to think of an exception to your rules. Use it to learn. The US has squandered the goodwill of its acquaintances. Begin to rebuild with yours.

You cannot wage war on terror. You can only refuse to be afraid.