Mesmerized by the news prompters in the campus bookstore the other day, I was jolted out of my daze when I heard loud booing. A girl, dressed tight-laced in a royal blue suit and knee high socks was audibly denouncing the television when the talking head mentioned war.
A man who heard her yelled angrily from his chair.
"This isn't Nam you idiot, they attacked us, and now they get attacked and we radiate the fuckers 'til they glow, that's how it works!"
The girl pointed her thumb down at the ground and shook her head no.
"Then you better whip out your tie-dye, 'cause we're going to war," I said.
Again she shook her head, but this time she took a deep breath and spoke.
"War is bad," she looked down, "These men were making a statement for their country, and what they did was evil
but it doesn't warrant war."
That was her whole argument, and she honestly believed her own words. Behind her eyes was not a pompous debate club drop-out, but rather a scared little girl. A girl who I guess didn't want to admit to herself that the horrific acts of evil that had happened had actually occurred. She didn't want to believe that we must now go out and defend our country and our people. She didn't want to believe what was right there in front of her.
Denial blinded her spirit.
Last week at the University of Florida, a student of Pakistani decent remarked to a group of other students that "America had this attack coming, with all of your women walking around with skirts on and what not, America should have seen it." This may not be the opinion of the majority, but in America, we're supposed to accept other's beliefs. We're supposed to tolerate other's views and use that tolerance to strengthen our own resolve for what we ourselves believe in.
Hours after making that comment, the young man's dorm room was broken into and someone hit him in the jaw with a hammer.
These were actions misguided by anger.
Last Friday, driving southbound on route 80, as the New York City skyline came into view, I focused more on the road around me than the road that lay ahead.
Along the shoulder of the road were hundreds and hundreds of people. They had pulled off the highway to light a candle in vigil for the victims of tragedy. On one minivan, a group of school girls stood holding their lights and looking out on the passersby. One girl in particular was standing statuesque on top of the minivan. Her right arm stood high above her head and in her hand she held her flame. Under her left arm she held a textbook. And she cried only in expression as her eyes followed every car that drove past her.
That vision is helping me gain acceptance of what happened. Those people holding candles against the night, along with countless volunteers, citizens across the nation putting up flags and millions of other Americans, are helping all of use see with purity of mind, that America is the brightest beacon of hope, justice, liberty and good anywhere.
Do you remember Monday, Sept. 10? If you do, I pray that you can remember it forever, because my memory of that day and my memory of the security I felt everyday before it is fleeting. The feelings of safety and invulnerability are gone now, and I can only hope to regain them as time presses on. Right now the aftermath of the attack on our country has made me dizzy with helplessness and loss. We're all in a psychological whirlwind, and from what I'm told; denial will precede anger, and anger will precede our acceptance of this tragedy. Ultimately, acceptance will allow us to pull together and stand unified in a war against terror.
This is the part of the column when I am supposed to add a grand sweeping comment like "It will take time, but I have no doubt that all of us will rise from these acts of infamy."
Then I remember that the families of over 5000 people, some of whom I hold close to my heart, will never feel whole again.
I find that all of us are operating at 50 percent. We're half-working, half-concentrating, half-listening, half-laughing and half-watching CNN.
So as we wake from the American dream, do not forget the ideals that set it in motion; liberty, freedom, justice and the pursuit of happiness. Once again America is being called to defend our way of life
and once again, we will prevail. As individuals, we undoubtedly all feel somewhat lost these days, but as we stand together to face terror, the only way to completely exterminate this evil will be through the clarity of our minds and hearts. We must enlist and protect our allies and keep vengeful watch on our enemies so that they can never take our memories away again.
I am not blood thirsty, and I don't want us to kill every man, woman and child who could pick up a gun, knife or rock against my country or people