Written by James Smucker
January - February 2003
Now that the first anniversary observance of the September 11 tragedy has come and gone, one wonders what was accomplished. Of course, it is good to remember and honor those who lost their lives in unimaginable horror and to surround their heart-broken loved ones with love and caring. And to honor the police, fire fighters, and volunteers who tried so hard at such great risk.
Still, one wonders why we had to replay the horror and rekindle the anger and calls for vengeance for an entire day. Far better to ask what we have learned from the experience and what we can do to change the attitude of so much of the world toward us.
Unfortunately, the administration in Washington seems to have learned nothing. The effort to end the terrorist activity in Afghanistan and to end the rule of the Taliban was probably the only first step available to our nation.
But, unfortunately, our president and his closed circle of advisors seem blind to the realities which enabled September 11 to occur. They continue to flaunt our wealth and power and wasteful life style in front of those vast numbers living in abject and hopeless poverty. They proclaim and act out the fact that we are the only super power and the most powerful and wealthy nation in history.
This may indeed bring a terrifying peace in our time. But the memory of our arrogance and violence will linger among the world's people who can only dream about a life style we consider to be our natural right. Our children and grandchildren will reap the whirlwind.
Every empire in history that has used its power and economic might to dominate the world has eventually collapsed under the weight of its own excesses and the total outrage of the rest of the world.
Is it not possible for the world's religious leaders to proclaim a jointly held priority, to unite in crossing faith lines in order to end violence and to share a common goal to secure an adequate standard of living, peace, and justice for all? Is it not possible for the United States to join with other nations to declare a war on global poverty and to eliminate the growing gap between the rich and the poor, literally between the obese and the starving?
Is it not possible for the United States to join the rest of the world in an effort to save our planet for everyone, not just our life style for us?
It is possible, if enough of us lift our voices to insist that we are one world, planetary sisters and brothers. It can happen if enough of us declare we will no longer support a selfish and irresponsible nationalism and an unrestricted free enterprise economic system now greedily trying to dominate and control the world in the name of free trade and profit.
God bless our planet!
The Rev. James R. Smucker, former Conference Minister of the New York Conference, is retired in Lacey, Wash.