Three Lenses on 9/11 and the Future
By Dave Brown, Larry Niven, Steve Barnes, 2001
Rev. Dave Brown
I was in New York City last Tuesday. It is the city where I came of age, a city I love a great deal. I remained in New York until Thursday. It was a painful and difficult time. The implications of the attacks for global politics, and economics will be discussed. Some of the religious issues raised in my last article for Futurust.com are pertinent as well. Yet I share what follows out of my conviction that we must remember the internal, spiritual and emotional journey ahead of us.
What follows is a section of a reflection shared with participants in the monthly Blues Vespers at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Tacoma. Silence, words and wonderful music by the Tim Sherman Band were part of an experience that was part of the healing process for those who attended. The theme for my reflection was freedom.
“Last Tuesday I was in my hotel room in New York City after witnessing first hand the destruction of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. President Bush was on TV and said, ” Our Freedom is under attacked.” I thought about that statement. He was right. I felt in that moment less free. The terrorist attacks caused grief, fear, disruption and anxiety that would last longer than a day or a week or month. I also knew that defeating the terrorist would not restore our full freedom. That happens within us. The challenge before America today is to learn to trust the world again. As long as we live in fear and hiding, as long as anxiety and fear rule our hearts, the terrorist will indeed have stolen our freedom.
Rediscovering that freedom will be a process. It is a journey filled with questions, anger, tears and fear. Yet it is one we must take. Only we can take back the freedom we have lost in those attacks and resume living life fully once again. We must choose a future that is without fear and live towards that future. We have to use internal/spiritual resources as part of the fight against terrorism.”
Rev. Dave Brown is a writer, poet and consultant. He has been published in several poetry columns and magazines as well as written op-eds for the Seattle Times and Tacoma News Tribune. Dave is the creator and host of award winning Blues Vespers and makes presentations as one of the Pacific Northwest Interfaith Amigos. Former staff to the National Council of Churches Committee on Public Education and the Presbyterian Education Roundtable he focuses on the intersection of religion and public education with a deep commitment to separation of church and state. Grounded a a deep sense of inclusive spirituality Dave writes and thinks about the future of faith and spirituality in a post-religion world. He is the former pastor of Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Tacoma WA.
“This date is September 16, 2001. I’m flying to New York on October 1st, if the airline industry can stop twitching long enough. I’ll see how they’re recovering and how New York is recovering. I’ll see a few friends. Then on to Albany for a convention. Last year, for fear of gunfire, I backed out of a convention in Israel that would have celebrated New Year’s Day on Mount Armageddon. I may have started a cascade: the con folded. I don’t intend to do that again. If the airlines are willing and able, I’m going to Albacon.
Civilization includes air travel. Doesn’t it? I’ve been predicting-with no due date-that telepresence will replace travel. Air travel, already threatened long-term by diminished fuel reserves and various strangleholds on oil, will now face terrors other than acrophobia, lost luggage and screwed-up schedules. I’m expected to know the future. I intend to go see it. ”
Larry Niven is well-known science fiction author. He sent us this declaration of how he has increased his resolve as a result of the events on 09-11-01.
For years, I have suspected that the concept of nations as autonomous entities was obsolete, and last week’s events reinforce this belief. In all probability, the threat of terrorism is unsolvable from within the 20th Century paradigm–it requires a shift that seems to be happening before our very eyes. Oh, it won’t be complete within our lifetimes, but as the nations of the world come together to deal with a threat that originates in no single geopolitical entity, I see much to hearten the open-minded. This is not a war as WWII was a war–it is more similar to the “War” on drugs, a “war” un-winnable with mere force. Personally, I think what is required is a two-pronged (read “balanced”) approach. First, swift and certain justice, death for the killers. Second, a higher order of International cooperation, a world court of appeals with the power to back up its decisions, so that no rational person or group would believe that they stand to gain more by illegal action than by legal. Will this end terrorism? No, no more than police end crime. But that’s what it is: crime on an international level. And when people feel that their grievances are heard they are LESS likely to commit crimes of rage, or harbor those they do.
God willing, this will prove another important step toward a world that acknowledges it no longer has boundaries, and that every crying son or daughter is child to us all.
Steven Barnes has written a number of science fiction books and also writes television screenplays and is a colleague of Brenda Cooper; he sent her this message.