bunt sign

Monday, September 24, 2001

Here's proof that I write this journal for myself. I have all these things rattling around in my brain, and I'm not sure they add much to the dialog, but I have to get them out. I've had NPR and C-SPAN and the ubiquitous CNN on all day while I worked, and I get a little information from one source, a grain of an idea from another. Then, later on when I have time to piece it all together, it comes out as a reassessment of the way I look at all that's happening.

And I reassess almost daily, sometimes hourly. I don't know what I think should happen any more than I know what is happening. I know what they tell me, and I process it through what I already know and believe. What comes out is not the Answer, not an answer of any kind, except a definition of where my mind is at that moment. I have a lot more questions than answers, plus still other thoughts that I have a hard time even framing into questions.

For example, I wonder what kind of world we'll be living in six months from now. Will it be close enough to what we've known for us to recognize it? Will it be so different that we will be different, in some fundamental way? And how about six years from now? Will the world in 2007 resemble September 10, 2001, in any way?

We should worry about now, I guess. We should take care of what needs to be done to make sure we'll still have a world for our children to inherit. It's just hard to see the other side of this "new war," which we seem to be calling the "war on terrorism." That's chilling, because it's so undefined. It's like swatting flies with a balloon. A war against an idea is different from a war with clear objectives.

We're interested in bringing the mass murderers to justice. We want to eliminate (or at least minimize) the possibility that anyone else will be able to perpetrate this kind of horror again. We want to punish governments that permit or promote the killing of civilians. And we're trusting that our own government and its allies know best how to do all this.

We cannot lose this war. (Not that it's impossible, but it is unthinkable. This is a must-win situation, as they say in sports.) We will almost certainly lose battles, if there even are battles in the Band of Brothers sense. (By the way, anyone who thinks war is romantic should watch the grim and gruesome portrayal of it on that program.)

Or we could win. We could roust bin Laden, topple the Taliban and shut down the camps that train people to fly airplanes into crowded buildings. And we still wouldn't be any better off than we are now unless we also show more sensitivity to the complexities of the modern world. If we don't learn how to deal with people who have differences with us, and show them due respect, we'll have squandered our position and our power.

We owe it to humanity to do what we can to keep the world safe. If that includes pursuing the military option first, I'll have to accept that. But it has to include a new diplomacy, too. We don't have to embrace ideals that we believe are inhumane or repressive, but we do have to accept the fact that some segments of the world's population think that we're arrogant, insensitive and boorish.

We also own the world's oldest continuing representative government, and an inborn commitment to the principles of liberty on which this nation was founded, and for which it has fought. Let's be sure that nothing we do now betrays those principles or undermines those hard-won battles. Vigilance is demanded ... and that, too, is one of our founding principles. We are accountable.

sunset (not today's)

We in the North Bay were treated to an incredible light show this afternoon. It might have been visible all over Northern California, but since there's no local news any more, I wouldn't know. It's rare that we have an electrical storm at all, but you almost never see forks of lightning streaking out of the clouds like bent and twisted laser beams. It started around three in the afternoon, and it was still going on, wilder than ever, when I closed the blinds at eight.

And the thunder! Cracking, booming, rolling thunder, rattling the windows. You can imagine what I thought of when I heard the first peal of thunder. As I said, we're not used to it here, and I flashed briefly on current events. But it was followed immediately by a ground-soaking cloudburst worthy of a summer day in Iowa (which I have experienced). Good for the garden, but I wasn't about to go out in the open field and pull weeds, even after the rain let up.

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