Monday, September 17, 2001
The reports from my Muslim friends are not terribly encouraging. Fortunately everyone is safe, but between a vandalized car (cannot be attributed to bigots, he says), another who's working very intensely with campus police to deal with situations as they happen, I start worrying. Let's hope that the Falwells of the world mange to show the world their idiocy on their own terms.
A strange form of business as usual has returned to DC. Uneasy denizens seem to know, deep inside, that this is not over. I suppose we all just have to, as one would say in Latin America, "make Heart out of Guts" and muster up our deepest discomfort to build back up our shattered sense of complacency.
Saturday, September 15, 2001
Monuments have reopened. The military guards on DC's streets have been allowed to step down. Traffic has eased. None of that is a comfort. I'm still uneasy.
Met an Indian-American man yesterday who had a fire in his eyes--a sense of rage and anger at what happened, and a determination in his words that seemed to indicate that he'd be enlisting within a week.
Thursday, September 13, 2001
The shock hasn't subsided yet. I drove near the Pentagon last night on my way to drop off a classmate, and the sight was thrice as shocking.
The loss of life at the Pentagon saddens me tremendously, and brings out the fear that many of us have had lingering in the back of our minds about living at such a political (epi)center. DC is a small city, and the networks of people are broad--already, I have heard from two people whose lives were touched through the loss of friends or friends of friends.
There is no consolation in the fact that Washington was much more fortunate than NYC. While seeing the back yard of our community on fire has rattled all those of us who live in or near the capital, I can not begin to grasp the magnitude of what happened in New York.
But despite our anger and sadness, this is the time to remind ourselves that bigotry and hatred only breeds more of it. Unfortunately, our leaders and prominent personalities have been, perhaps unwittingly, maybe understandably, highly incendiary. Speak vociferously and loudly to contest those around you who may, through ignorance or prejudice, continue to spread intolerance and hatred towards people of Arab descent. This is the time to remember what our own experiences tell us about the deadly power of silence, the killer consequences of prejudice, and the fact that the acts of a set of deranged individuals does not give us license to continue the cycle.
Wednesday, September 12, 2001
One day after the day that changed all our lives.
I thought, when I left Perú, that certain things would stay behind. Christmases spent in the dark because of Shining Path's latest bombs of power lines. Thousands dead over 15 years, victims of enemies that were known but never understood. Indeed, I lived with the illusion of safety once I moved to the US. Even when choosing to move to the DC area, as the thoughts crossed my mind (This would be ground zero if They ever decided to do something, that unspecified They, that monster adults graduate to after dismissing the one under the bed as folly), I would easily dismiss them--nah, not here, no one would be that brazen/stupid.
What naivete. I live at Ground Zero. The attacks in New York City and Arlington VA.. My home (the larger sense of home, my neighborhood) is at the center of this destruction. And once we find who did it and start the bombing, it isn't going to get better. War with terrorists is not a foreign war even if they happen to be foreign terrorists. War with terrorists is fought in the battlefield of streets and apartment buildings, banks and movie theaters, pizza parlors and government buildings. It's fought against enemies that hide under the blanket of darkness, behind the cowardice of suicide, justified by ideology that colors the world with shades of blood. This war will be fought on my streets, on our streets.
In a time like this, my religious agnosticism stands as an obstacle. I do not have a vocabulary of grief. I do not have a spiritual language I can use with dexterity. But if clumsily, may the universal spirits heal the voids left in the great fabric of goodness by yesterday's deeds.
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