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No cosmic Ctrl-Z

24 Sept. 2001

This game called history has no undo command.

Rolling back to Sept. 10 and starting over just isn't an option.

But the actions we take in response to the Sept. 11 attacks will have their own consequences.

There's a certain satisfaction in drawing lines in the sand -- good guys on this side, bad guys over there. And yet ... why is it one of the first people we start wooing to our side of the line is a military dictator? Haven't we learned where these opportunistic alliances lead? Security for our own country is not at the end of that road.

The tough guy approach is tempting because it's a reflex. No need for great imagination.

If we really want to protect our security, though, we need powerful imagination -- inspiration, even.

Building the foundation for a just world -- where wealth and power are distributed equitably and where, as a result, people don't feel they have nothing to lose, that their only recourse is suicidal violence -- that's tough.

It's hard even getting the idea into people's heads.

Three years ago there was an exchange that illustrated how hard it is for us to get our minds around this.

Ralph Nader sent a letter to Bill Gates asking that he and Warren Buffett lead a conference on national and global wealth disparities and what to do about them. Gates responded with a letter that highlighted his philanthropy.

Folks, it's not about charity.

I haven't seen the perfect grand plan. (If you have, let me know.) I do know we need to invest some real energy in moving toward greater economic justice. And that's likely to call for sacrifices that are both more difficult and more satisfying than the sacrifices of war.

Meanwhile, voices calling for peace and justice need to be heard. There are powerful examples, including this one from the parents of a young man missing in the World Trade Center attack. And there are many ways we all can call for and work for a more considered course. Here's one.

Copyright © 2001 John Spragens


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