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What is an appropropriate response?
Political and philosophical considerations after the attack on the Word Trade Center

Chorus of Sanity: a collection of personal statements

Boudewijn Wegerif, Carol Brouillet, Ben Ferencz, ...


Boudewijn Wegerif
September 21, 2001

George Bush said, to a standing ovation, in his speech to Congress and the
world a couple of hours ago: "Every country has a decision to make, either
you are with us or you are with the terrorists."

With these words, and the words that came before and after them, George Bush
was saying to every citizen of every democracy in the world, either you are
with the U.S. as it unleashes more and more state terror around the globe
and in the U.S. itself, or you are with the terrorists that the U.S.
"intelligence and police forces and the banking system" (Bush's term) are
securing the U.S. against. That is to say, you are with those who "hate our
way of life", and who will now be hunted down and buried in "history's
unmarked graves of discarded lives" (again, Bush's words).

I am neither for Bush's crusade of terror, nor for the network of terrorists
that the U.S., with the complicity of every high income country and several
middle and low income countries, has been largely responsible for

I hope that the people of every democracy everywhere will be awake to what
is happening in their name and will require of their governments that they
be neither for Bush's crusade of terror nor for the terrorists. In
expressing this hope I show myself to be politically naive perhaps. For from
immediate reactions by the media here in Sweden, it seems that not only in
the United  States but right round the 'civilized' world, the vast majority
of people will be following like sheep to the slaughter.

Yet still one must hope, and be active for the realization of the hope.


[Editor's note: in case you have seen a different version of this article
before, on a mailing list, for example, i'd like to mention that i have
received this re-edited version of the message directly from the author]

Carol Brouillet writes:

October 2nd is the anniversary of Gandhi's birth

I was thinking of calling for a day of dramatic "nonviolence"-

     Nurturing Hope, Peace and
  "Satyaagraha"- "Pursuit of Truth"

Let us gather, join hands, speak, and listen with open hearts and minds,
remembering the essence of Gandhi's philosophy-

We must always be guided by love, compassion, understanding and respect,
allow everything we have to interact positively with the elements and help
create a society of peace and harmony....

The more possessions we have, the more we have to secure them from those
who covet it generating feelings of jealousy and the desire to take by
force what the needy cannot get through compassion.

Gandhi said being liberated politically or socially is not enough. Freeing
yourself of attachments means one must be willing to stand up for truth and
justice, and not be afraid of the consequences like losing your
possessions, your job or even your life. It is only when we reach that
level of spiritual power that nonviolence will become relevant....

"I am prepared to die, but there is no cause for which I am prepared to
kill," Gandhi said.

Are we willing to move away from greed, selfishness and all the negative
attributes that govern our lives to the more positive attributes of love,
compassion, understanding and respect?

Two excerpts from a letter by Ben Ferencz

* * *

Perhaps some of the tears have dried and people can begin to think
rationally about the horrors of the past week and what we can do to prevent
the recurrence of such tragedies.  As one who has witnessed such atrocities
and who has looked into the unrepentant eyes of mass killers, please allow
me to share some thoughts that I hope may help move us toward a less
violent world where all may live in peace and human dignity.  The basic
thrust of my thinking is that we should try to rely more on law than war.

* * *

We must try to understand the causes of the violence and try to diminish
the hatreds that encourage people to kill or be killed for their particular
cause.  This requires new thinking, a willingness to compromise, compassion
and tolerance, a greater respect for the goals set down in the UN Charter
and infinite patience.  I am now approaching 82 and I have not given up
hope.  To those of all faiths, I extend my best wishes for peace and

* * *


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