My Thoughts By Cameron Pritchard
It is now several days since I was awoken in the early hours of the morning to watch the truly unbelievable events in New York City and Washington D.C. unfold. Yet the shock is still as intense as ever. No human being could fail to feel the most gut-wrenching despair at the sight of the hijacked planes crashing themselves into the WTC towers on their maniacal mission. Yet I felt something more than despair as I saw the destruction take place. It was an emotion I still cannot quite put my finger on. I can only describe it by a simile. It was what one might feel at the sight of someone kicking a small child to death and laughing as he does so. That is as best that I can describe it. But I think I know why that simile comes to mind. It is the contrast a contrast between true innocence, between the joyful hope of a young child with a life of wonder ahead of him on the one hand, and on the other hand the most sneering and obscene destroyer of all that is good and innocent. The feeling invokes a profound sense of helplessness one can punish a criminal but what can one do in the face of evil that is not simply cold and calculating but also smiling?
But on reflection I think my simile is flawed. It paints the good and the innocent as the weak and the evil as the strong. I think the real natures of good and evil revealed themselves in the subsequent hours and days.
In the initial commentary, including statements by President Bush, world leaders and eyewitnesses on the streets of the Big Apple I noticed one adjective being used again and again to describe the terrorists "cowardly." And nothing could be truer. For it does not take bravery to poison one’s mind with a maniacal religion. It does not take bravery to destroy the lives of innocent people. It does not take bravery to smear the greatness of a nation. Rather it takes the most contemptible smallness. It takes the pettiest weakness of a mind that never had the courage to think, of a soul that never had the courage to love beauty and greatness, that was too cowardly to exist as a human being. These terrorists truly were cowards.
The bravery lies with those who have the courage to defend the innocent, to fight for what is right; to love life and to give one’s all in its name. The bravery was with the rescue workers at "ground zero" whose love for their city, their country, their fellow citizens and their own way of life shone through in every tireless hour of effort. I am tempted to call it superhuman effort. But it is not super humans that we have seen it is humans pure and simple. For there is nothing higher than the kind of courage we have seen humans display this week. That courage is the highest possible. That courage was in the hearts of the people of New York. I doubt if there is any other city on earth whose citizens are more loyal to it. It is something that outsiders possibly find difficult to understand given that we know New York to be "the city that never sleeps" the city of traffic cues, honking horns and short tempers! But the truth below that surface has shown itself to the world though I suspect New Yorkers have always known it: the relationship between the city and its people is that of a love affair. I saw a snapshot of that when I visited the city in April. The city and its people are one the soul of the city is its people and the city forms part of the soul of every New Yorker.
What bravery, what loyalty to values what a shining example of the very best human nature has to offer! What religion, what presence of God and here that term can be made real, brought down from the imaginary heavens to the very real rubble where fire fighters fought and rescue workers searched, to the hospitals where New Yorkers waited for hours to give blood. What sacrifice? No, that term has been used often this week but only because people are groping for a term to identify the exact opposite of sacrifice a commitment to values, to keeping them, to their intense personal significance, to the profound dedication to fight for them simply because life would be meaningless without them.
The twin towers were a product of everything that is noble in human life intelligence, industriousness, peaceful trade, and achievement. Those values rise again from the literal ashes in the form of the intense dedication of the American people to their way of life. There is much disagreement between people as to the specifics of just how social life in America and in the west should be organised. But let us thank God that is, let us thank the highest possible when we realise just what we do agree upon the importance of freedom, the rule of law, justice, prosperity and human benevolence.
With all this we see how much we have to be thankful for despite the tragedy of this horror. Is that weakness or strength? The answer is obvious! Our values tower as high as the WTC towers did and those values can never be turned into ashes or rubble.
As the cowardly terrorists go into hiding they hide themselves from that which they fear perhaps most of all the sight of the essence of humanity at its very best. That essence is symbolised in the shining splendour of the Stars and Stripes, the flag that now flies for all of us.