MUSING ON A
SEPTEMBER MOURNING

PART 3: QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS

PART 1: MY OWN THOUGHTS
PART 2: MESSAGES FROM FRIENDS AND FAMILY OVERSEAS
PART 4: LINKS
PART 5: COPING
"A LADDER TO HEAVEN"

On Friday September 14, the New York Times quoted the following words of beauty from a Mr Charles Samah. . .

As he helped a 90-year old man down a stairwell, Mr Samah passed 30 to 50 firefighters heading upward. 'It was like a ladder to heaven,' he said. 'I don't think any of them made it.'

The following quotation was forwarded to us by our 6-year old son's school principal. . .

"It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out.  Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.  I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation of confusion, misery and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness.  I hear approaching thunder ... I can feel the suffering of millions, and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come out right, that this cruelty will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.  In the meantime, I must hold on to my ideals for perhaps the day will come when I shall be able to carry them out."


from The Diary of Ann Frank, written two weeks before the death of its author.
Forwarded by Mark Petracca, aka Dusty Wright. . .

"An army of principles can penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot! It
will succeed where diplomacy may fail! It will always unite the Human race
where all else divides!"
Thomas Paine
From an essay in The City section of the New York Times, Sunday September 16. . .

"We now know that like the British during the Blitz, we are not going to give an inch and will go right on living our mad, overbooked, overburdened, dizzy, neurotic New York lives to the fullest. The final victory in this war will surely belong to we New Yorkers, who may have been drafted unwillingly, but who will do our part."


Anne Roiphe
From the same section of the same paper. . .

"There may have been instances in history where war has been declared anonymously, but I don't know of any."


Mary Gordon
I took the following off the Odds and Sods newsgroup which exists as a forum for discussions on the Who. Naturally, it went well off subject after Tuesday and I figured it would have a wide range of views given that Who fans can be found in all countries, of all ages, and of many political persuasions. I don't advocate violence and I don't like military action, but given that both are already upon us, I think the following observations are valid, well thought out and astutely argued. . .


"My bet?

We will be in Baghdad and Kabul by year's end. We will be using air bases in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and those countries where Russia still has permission to have airbases to attack, but by year's end we will be in those cities and will work with neighboring Arab states to establish governments that the people of those countries will like better and that we will like better. We will, if we are smart, not kill bin Laden (if he's still alive, BTW) or allow him to kill himself.

You will see American and Russian missiles first fired from the usual
places. This will be followed by American, British, French and Russian
ground troops acting as a unit, first in Afghanistan from former Soviet
states and Pakistan. Then the same will immediately occur in Iraq, moving in
from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia - by ground with air cover. I believe we will
see Iran look the other way at least, and Pakistan provide bases for
deployment and troops. I do not believe that the governments in Pakistan and
Iran can contribute directly to the fighting without risking revolution in
their own countries.

Yes ground troops. This is not a video game any more resulting in an arrest
and legal action. We are going to be killing people and make no mistake be
killed. But since it's clear we're going to have killings any way and
there's no one to have a dialog with, let's move the killings to their
roots, shall we? If anyone thinks that we lack resolve about this, think
about it; does anyone seriously think there is a Marine on infantry soldier
alive right now who, unlike the ambiguity of purpose in Kuwait, doesn't want
to go and do some damage A.S.A.P.?

I have been chatting with people in Pakistan and Iran over the net. Everyone
should try this. Just pick a person on ICQ and say "what's the word on the
street there?" Very interesting.

I was surprised how supportive they were and how supportive they said the
people on the street were. This was definitely just street talk over the
Internet, but I got the sense from the things they said and the way they
said it that we have a lot of support there. Iran and Pakistan surround
Afghanistan and Iraq, of course. From the sounds of things, you will not see
a West Bank-style celebration from any of these countries, nor will you see
it in the West Bank either, now that this has sunk in. They are now
effectively our allies.

The day after I had these talks with people on the street (they lasted for
and hour or so) Pakistan announced that it is meeting with the US to figure
out how best to form a relationship. So I believe what I am seeing and
feeling from talking to these people and reading the news reports from Colin
Powell, etc..

The good news (I hope)...

I believe that by year's end the Allies will own Iraq, and Afghanistan,
among others perhaps (Algeria?).

By 2010, Baghdad and Kabul will be great places to visit, and that the
alliance partners India and Pakistan will be talking to each other once
more. We will have moved on, stronger and smarter with an alliance that
makes the world a better place than it was a year ago.

Finally Jim [referring here to a previous post], I understand where this statement comes from:

"Our own indignation of the events of the past few days cannot lead us down
a path of global destruction. "

This is spot on. I would only repeat your sentence and substitute "apathy"
for "indignation". No one was remotely interested in doing anything like
this 3 days ago, including me. But these people have changed that. Unless
you count eliminating every known large terrorist cell and state sponsor of
terrorism as global destruction, I don't see this happening.

But let's be real. If they can do this, they can drop a nuke if they get
one. So we have to do something right now to hopefully prevent that.

The truly sad thing of course is that we funded these idiots a decade ago,
to combat the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan - yet another intelligence
foobar. Let's hope we pick better this time, and act out of respect and
understanding for Islam rather than derision and ignorance, which will just
foment unrest again there for another problem a decade later.


Gary Lang
The lovely people at Halcyon in Cobble Hill could be relied upon to find the right words to express the feelings of many of us. The following was included in their mailing list sent out four weeks after September 11.

As we all try to move forward into this new chapter of human history we must never again
take for granted that we are indeed alive. We must wake up from our state of slumber and
stay alert. Take comfort in the company of friends and family. Take stock of the wealth and
opportunity we have in America. Take seriously your culture and your freedom. Take notice
of the concerns of the world outside of your sphere. Take action to influence the world in a
positive manner. Take back what has been stolen from us by stepping up and living each day
to the fullest. Take care in everything you do and say — each of us matters.
Love and peace, the Halcyon Kidz
The following response to my friend Thomas's mass e-mail (read it here) seems to sum up how so many people in American feel right now, which is to say, conflicted. . .

"I have good friends here in Hawaii who lost friends & family in the World Trade Center. This tragedy has not left any of us untouched, even those of us 5,500 miles from ground zero. My thoughts on the tragedies that have and are occurring are much like most Americans. I feel strangely American for the first time in my life. I fantasized about buying a flag yesterday although I find nationalism one of the greatest threats to world peace. I want to strategically bomb Afghanistan -- to decimate Bin Laden, but also to destroy the Taleban. I think the Taleban is as evil as Bin Laden for its ongoing atrocities against women. So I am strangely unsympathetic at the moment towards a non-violent response. Strangely because I have bordered on pacifism most of my life. I will be deeply saddened by what will inevitably be called the "collateral" (I HATE THAT TERM) damage to civilians, but in the name of the greater good, I believe we must take down the machine of destruction that is Bin Laden and the Taleban. I am hoping that the massive build up of global force targeted at Afghanistan will force the Taleban to deliver Bin Laden before we go in with bombs and troops. And yet, as I said, I am not so secretly hoping we will go in and bring the Taleban to its knees.

Despite the fact that I support some kind of military response, and that I am nevertheless concerned about what will transpire because of it, I feel like something good is coming of this tragedy. A global unification of humanity is occurring like no other in my lifetime ... Listening to the heart wrenching and inspiring stories of volunteers, survivors, the global response of solidarity and aid, the Star Spangled Banner played at Buckingham Palace yesterday, Russians (our "enemy" barely 10 years ago) saying "we want America to know we are your friend," Pakistan agreeing to assist... we are in a new world indeed, that isn't altogether bad.
While there has been an increase in American nationalism, there has simultaneously been a softening of nationalism around the world -- the concept that "we are one" has never seemed so accepted by the nations & people of the world. An attack on one, an attack on all, as the UN appropriately characterized it. I am hopeful that this kind of realization of our interconnectedness will save us from our own self-destruction.


"Helen"
The following was forwarded by Brooklyn DJ friends Soundgizmo - but by now probably most internationally concerned people have read it. I hope the philosophy professor who wrote it is glad that he could disseminate his perspective so rapidly and so widely. I think it has done much to "help" the public at large understand better the situation in Afghanistan.

I've been hearing a lot of talk about "bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age." Ronn Owens [2], on KGO Talk Radio today, allowed that this would mean killing innocent people, people who had nothing to do with this atrocity, but "we're at war, we have to accept collateral damage. What else can we do?" Minutes later I heard some TV pundit discussing whether we "have the belly to do what must be done."

I am from Afghanistan, and even though I've lived here for 35 years I've never lost track of what's going on there. So I want to tell anyone who will listen how it all looks from where I'm standing.

I speak as one who hates the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. There is no doubt in my mind that these people were responsible for the atrocity in New York. I agree that something must be done about those monsters.

But the Taliban and Ben Laden are not Afghanistan. They're not even the government of Afghanistan. The Taliban are a cult of ignorant psychotics who took over Afghanistan in 1997. Bin Laden is a political criminal with a plan. When you think Taliban, think Nazis. When you think Bin Laden, think Hitler. And when you think "the people of Afghanistan" think "the Jews in the concentration camps." It's not only that the Afghan people had nothing to do with this atrocity. They were the first victims of the perpetrators. They would exult if someone would come in there, take out the Taliban and clear out the rats nest of international thugs holed up in their country.

Some say, why don't the Afghans rise up and overthrow the Taliban? The answer is, they're starved, exhausted, hurt, incapacitated, suffering. A few years ago, the United Nations estimated that there are 500,000 disabled orphans in Afghanistan , a country with no economy, no food. There are millions of widows. And the Taliban has been burying these widows alive in mass graves. The soil is littered with land mines, the farms were all destroyed by the Soviets. These are a few of the reasons why the Afghan people have not overthrown the Taliban.

We come now to the question of bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age. Trouble is, that's been done. The Soviets took care of it already. Make the Afghans suffer? They're already suffering. Level their houses? Done. Turn their schools into piles of rubble? Done. Eradicate their hospitals? Done. Destroy their infrastructure? Cut them off from medicine and health care? Too late. Someone already did all that.

New bombs would only stir the rubble of earlier bombs. Would they at least get the Taliban? Not likely. In today's Afghanistan, only the Taliban eat, only they have the means to move around. They'd slip away and hide. Maybe the bombs would get some of those disabled orphans, they don't move too fast, they don't even have wheelchairs. But flying over Kabul and dropping bombs wouldn't really be a strike against the criminals who did this horrific thing. Actually it would only be making common cause with the Taliban--by raping once again the people they've been raping all this time.

So what else is there? What can be done, then? Let me now speak with true fear and trembling. The only way to get Bin Laden is to go in there with ground troops. When people speak of "having the belly to do what needs to be done" they're thinking in terms of having the belly to kill as many as needed. Having the belly to overcome any moral qualms about killing innocent people. Let's pull our heads out of the sand. What's actually on the table is Americans dying. And not just because some Americans would die fighting their way through Afghanistan to Bin Laden's hideout. It's much bigger than that folks. Because to get any troops to Afghanistan, we'd have to go through Pakistan. Would they let us? Not likely. The
conquest of Pakistan would have to be first. Will other Muslim nations just stand by? You see where I'm going. We're flirting with a world war between Islam and the West.

And guess what: that's Bin Laden's program. That's exactly what he wants. That's why he did this. Read his speeches and statements. It's all right there. He really believes Islam would beat the west. It might seem ridiculous, but he figures if he can polarize the world into Islam and the West, he's got a billion soldiers. If the west wreaks a holocaust in those lands, that's a billion people with nothing left to lose, that's even better from Bin Laden's point of view. He's probably wrong, in the end the west would win, whatever that would mean, but the war would last for years and millions would die, not just theirs but ours. Who has the belly for that? Bin Laden does. Anyone else?


Mir Tamim Ansary
Virginia Lohle, who runs the music photo agency Starfile (representing many photographers used in Dear Boy), sent me the following a full week after the disaster, having visited the other pages on this site:


I, as a native of NYC, was very moved by the depth of your love of your adoped city. I have always felt that New York City was a living, breathing member of my family.

My heart is broken, but still beating.

I just returned from Union Square Park. I have felt a terrible need to
bear witness to all of this. I have been getting more and more depressed
as the days pass. Last week, all those posters with photos and desperate
pleas from loved ones all over town meant something different than they do
now. I think that is what the rest of the world isn't getting. They look
at a number like "5,422" people and feel badly. I stop and read each one,
imprinting the faces of my neighbors on my memories. Each are individuals
to me, not numbers and grim stats. I look down 5th Avenue at what isn't
there and still can't believe it.

Star File was open every day last week - I'm not even sure why. We just
had to be there.

I have often said that in times of trouble, I will take 20 strangers from
New York rather than close friends from around the country and the world.
I remember the '77 blackout and other times of trouble, but there has never
been anything that we can compare to the current horror. Nothing is even
close. Every phase of our lives has changed. My life is now in two parts,
before and after Sept. 11th.

Saturday afternoon I go to the first funeral of a lifetime friend. His
mother has nothing to bury.

I know we are gonna be okay but this hurts like hell.

Love From Your Fellow New Yorker,
Virginia

The following landed in my e-mail in box in a roundabout manner through several generations of being forwarded. That's fine. If ever there was a time that the "forward" button has earned its keep, this is it.

United We Stand

As I sat motionless, seemingly paralyzed by the series of tragic events that unfolded before my eyes on nearly every TV station, I felt an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. Other emotions barraged my senses with such fury that I eventually became eerily numb. I didn't eat. I didn't speak. I sank deeper into my comfortable, safe couch. I felt hopeless. Mainly, because I felt I couldn't do anything to help.

As the dust clouds finally began to lift over Manhattan so did my brain fog.
I decided to do something, anything that I felt would help America remain steadfast and a glorious 'beacon of light' for the world. Here are just a few
actions this proud American is taking:

Honor The Fallen: I will continue to honor the fallen, their family and friends. And like so many who have gone before them in the line of duty, I will not
forget them. We must not forget them. (On a side note, Police, Firefighters and others serving this country should be compensated at a level that says we
understand and truly appreciate the daily risk they take in order to protect us. We can't take this for granted any longer!)

One Dollar, One Nation: I will invest at least $10 into a company's stock or mutual fund next week as a show of faith towards boosting the
national/world economy. I also won't be pulling out of any of my investments. Just imagine, if the entire US population were to make just a $1 investment,
that would equal well over $275 million dollars. This would have an impact and go a long way towards restoring the nation's confidence.

Know Your Neighbor: I plan to get to know my next-door neighbors. And, I don't mean just exchanging niceties and friendly smiles across pruned
shrubs. I mean playing 20 hard-ball questions. Basically, interrogating my neighbors in the nicest way possible. Hey, I wouldn't mind if one of my
neighbors came over to me and said, 'What the hell do you actually do? Where do you work? What's your religion? Etc.' It amazes me how many of
us don't even know who lives in the next apartment or house. The more we learn about our neighbors, the more we'll learn about ourselves and, more
importantly, about the ultimate safety of our loved ones and country.

Time To Give: I want to be a 'giver' rather than a 'taker', especially in this time of need. I plan to give some of my time to a local charity,
organization, church or community. Similar to the $1 dollar, one nation concept, if each of us were to give just 1 hour of our time a week to a worthy cause, the
world would be a better place to live. Take for example the countless millions who are already giving blood, food, shelter or anything else that may be needed.
These generous acts illustrate how this cowardly act has backfired. This country is more united and stronger than ever. I know when it comes time for the
president to say jump, I'm confident the American public will say, 'How High.'

Polish For Prosperity:` I plan to take some time this week to clean a local street or park. Each piece of paper or empty can I lift will be a symbol of the
thousands of tons of WTC ruble that our brave Firemen, Police, Emergency Personnel, Rescue Squads, National Guard and Volunteers are currently sifting
through and removing. A clean nation is a healthy, prosperous one.

The hardest step to take is always the first one. Lets all take one giant leap together, in unison, towards ridding this world of evil at all levels everywhere.

Forever Free,
Chris Faust
Michelle Ferguson ran a successful music PR company here in New York City for many many years, MFPR. She recently closed it to set up a new company entitled otonomedia. Born into a long-serving military family, she is the proud wife of a former Israeli soldier. This all affords her a different perspective than those of us whose family members have never had to face combat. She posted the following on her web site and, like myself, invited friends to take a look; I have taken the liberty of editing it just a little bit, which I hope she doesn't mind. The full version is available here.

I live in NYC and watched the WTC attacks from my roof. I watched a hijacked plane cut through the clearest September sky like a knife into the heart of my city and my country, I watched as smoke and debris consumed my
neighborhood, and like all Americans, I slowly understood that many, many people were murdered and that someone had burst the bubble we had been living in for so long. . .

. . .When I was a little girl, my dad, an officer in the army, volunteered to go to Vietnam. My sister and I were very young and my brother was an infant, indeed, we spent a fair portion of our young lives with my father absent. My mother
did an excellent job making sure everything was normal. She never let us know that my Dad might not return or how worried she was he may not, or the pain of raising a young family on her own. Now that I’m a grown woman, I
realize how difficult it must have been. Between tours and when he returned, my father never let us see how frustrating or morale-draining it must have been for him, though I now can imagine. . .

. . .Though no one in my family is active in the military now, my heart breaks when I think of the wives, husbands and children of soldiers who may have to suffer what those families of American soldiers of the Vietnam conflict suffered.
It literally makes me weep. Those who may have to suffer the loss of a loved one without the sympathy and thanks of a nation. I want these soldiers currently serving and their families to know how much their sacrifice is
appreciated. I live in hope that America has grown up a bit and that maybe that vocal minority will give way to a vocal majority who even in our ever-vigilant participation in our democratic government can share their
support and concern for their fellow Americans in combat.

I also realize so many people, like myself, haven’t been to war, or don’t know the heart of a soldier the way I do. I am the wife, daughter and granddaughter of soldiers who have seen active duty. In the last few generations our army
has been all-volunteer and that means most Americans who have other opportunities don’t serve. They likely don’t know anyone who has served in the military either. It’s common sense that the last people who want to go to war are the military, because they are called to make the greatest sacrifice. However, they are the first who are willing to protect our security and safety.

As time goes on, it might help us to remember that humanity is not a politically correct concept that exists devoid of any responsibility or consequence. To act on our humanity we must confront reality and accept the dichotomy that is
inherent in any conflict. There are sometimes unpleasant things that must be done for a greater good. What makes the difference? Honesty about our intentions. We must not be childish or naive and ask others to bear the burden for our freedom whether they are our own soldiers, the victims of terrorism or a people suffering under an oppressive and sexist regime without accepting responsibility ourselves. Avoidance is not humanity. And wishing the ugliness did not exist, sadly, will not make it go away.

Michelle Ferguson.

This editorial that was forwarded from a San Diego journalist via Formula PR. Given that it took me five days to put a piece of music back on the stereo, I think he summed it up very well. . .

"How can we talk about music at a time like this? If there’s ever a moment in time when our jobs seem trite and belittled, it is now. If there’s ever a moment when making, selling, promoting, discussing, loving, and writing about music seems a wrongful diversion of our emotions and attention, it is now. But what was the goal of the terrorists? Was it simply to end the lives of our people in the Trade Center, Pentagon, White House, airplanes, etc?

No.

The terrorists knew they could take the lives. Their ultimate goal is to deteriorate, injure, and eventually destroy our spirit. Our psyche. Our way of life that you, I, and those we lost had worked so damn hard for.

Luckily, they cannot bomb our spirits.

They have already killed thousands of our own. They have emotionally maimed hundreds of thousands of others. They have grounded our air travel. They have destroyed our landmarks. They have injured our economy.

Even with those, they haven’t won.

If we let them stop our daily lives -- those small loves of ours that make it all worth waking to, then they’ve won. If we withdraw into a national psyche of depression and inactivity, then they have won.

Music is one of the deepest expressions of human emotion that we have. If we let them halt our artistic expression, then we are defeated. If we think that art and music are too trivial to believe in at a time like this, then our spirit is wasted.

We cannot replace the lives we lost.

We CAN replace our spirit. We can replace our national confidence. We can repair our economy, resurrect our buildings, and build more planes.

In the same way, don’t ignore the grief. Don’t ignore the anger. But we honor our dead not by lying down, but by rebuilding.

For those of us in music, I’m sure those we lost would tell us, “get to work. Make art. Push art on the world.”


By Troy Johnson from Slamm Magazine in San Diego.
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MUSING ON A SEPTEMBER MOURNING
PART1:
My immediate reaction to September 11
PART 2: Messages from friends & family overseas
PART 3: Observations & quotes from others.
PART 4: LINKS
PART 5: COPING - 2 weeks later
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