Asking “why?”

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a letter sent by student Melody Martin to her father-in-law and ex-husband the day after the attack. She wanted to share her feelings with the community.

Dear Bill and Steve,

Hope this finds you in fair spirits. Bill and Steve, being former military men, I am sure the recent events are weighing heavy on your thoughts. For those of us who love our country this is a particularly difficult time.

I spent most of yesterday glued to the TV screen. My intellectual side trying to sort through the facts and theories of the “how” of the terrorist events. My emotional side trying to cope with the “why.”

Understanding the logistics, tactics, etc. is fairly easy. The rationale behind terrorist attacks is simple to comprehend (surprise, demoralizing the enemy, bludgeoning the economy). It is, of course, the emotional side of me that rails at the attack. I can not and will not ever understand the level of hatred one human being can feel towards another human being.

Especially in the circumstances of war – the enemy as an unknown individual – only a despised philosophical/theological/political entity.

I want, like most Americans, punishment for the guilty. My fear is reprisal(s) against the wrong person(s) and many Americans rallying for an ethnic cleansing perpetrated against all Muslims. I do not want us to become an evil, intolerant empire. I pray that our moral reasoning will somehow prevent us from taking retaliatory actions without proof and temper our need for justice with self-control.

The kids and I are fine. I am keeping them out of public and governmental buildings as you requested, Steve. They are cooperating. Of course we are concerned about all of you – please let us know what you are thinking and feeling.



Dialogue helps in stressful times

To the Editor:

Regarding this week’s horrific tragedy, we at the Community Mediation Center want to share our concern for those in our community facing and dealing with tough emotional and other challenges. Our community and our country are diverse. Perception, perspective, attitude and expectations vary, within and between people and groups.

When perceptions and expectations are not fulfilled, confusion, frustration, anger, hurt, etc. may occur. Left unresolved, such feelings may come out in unpredictable and undesired ways. Careful and sincere structured dialogue presents a very useful opportunity for people to communicate – to listen as well as to speak in a potentially new and open manner.

The Community Mediation Center respectfully offers our services to the community, particularly during this time of expanded need. We can provide mediation for interpersonal and very small group mediation, and we provide facilitation for meetings and inter- or intra- group conversations or dialogues. Our mediators are committed to providing neutral services and to maintaining the confidentiality of all participants’ conversations.

Anne D. Pokras, executive director

Karen Tucker, program coordinator

Community Mediation Center



EDITOR’S NOTE: The following poem was written by 13 year-old Darah Morin, daughter of USM Police dispatcher Trixi Morin. Because of her age, Darah wasn’t able to give blood or money to help victims of the attack. This poem is the only response she could give.


By Darah Morin

When buildings came crashing down,

My everyday smile flooded and drowned.

Terrified people ran down the street.

America is strong and will not be beat.

Grief and sorrow washed over me.

Why this? Why now? How can this be?

Now the pieces lay on the ground,

And bodies unaccounted are yet to be found.

Planes crashed and people died,

No one should have taken these lives.

Close knit families and best friends

Will never see their loved ones again.

But we will rise from the rubble

And greet the new day,

Because we are

The land of the free and the home of the brave

Americans must think before they act

To the Editor:

The terrible acts committed Tuesday morning by an unknown group bring out so many emotions and cannot help but touch everyone in the nation, no matter how remote. However, after the initial shock, it has become clear that for many people these emotions include Hate, Rage and Hostility. In a critical situation like this one I believe that it is essential to maintain rational thought and to try not to let our emotions and initial reactions get the better of us.

In this event, the facts are so few, and yet we are jumping to some serious conclusions. When I turn on the TV I hear talk of blame for this act directed to Bin Laden, Palestine, or Afghanistan. When I listen to people, they say, “Let’s bomb the Middle East,” or “Let’s kill anyone who has a connection.”

I have heard people talk about beating anyone who looks like they may be from the Middle East. This is very disturbing to me because I know there are people out there who are looking for someone to blame, and they might settle for the nearest person.

This is also frightening on the national level because it is clear that the American people are going to be looking for someone to blame and clamoring for the Government to punish them immediately. I think we need to consider all the facts before jumping to conclusions, and we must reserve judgment and hate.

First of all, we have NO idea who really did this. The media says it was probably Bin Laden, but this is totally speculation at this point. Remember that none of us suspected Timothy McVeigh. Still, everyone I speak with says he is to blame. Have we even considered all the suspects?

Why is it that the one suspect we consider happens to be in the Middle East, where we have large vested interests in oil. Supposing that it is Bin Laden, we also must consider that people like this do this for a reason. Perhaps we should look at our own Government’s acts: perhaps we brought this on ourselves. We have been providing weapons to Israel to fight Palestine. When those guns kill other innocent victims of our second-hand “enemies,” why wouldn’t those people feel justified retaliating against us. We have been looking at this as if it were a totally unprovoked attack on American freedom, but history shows us that when people lash out, they do it because they feel wronged.

I would like to remind people that although this was a cowardly act, we cannot let ourselves think that it justifies a much stronger act of violence in retaliation. We cannot forget Hiroshima, where an order was given from the US President from thousands

of miles away for a single plane to drop a single bomb that immediately killed over 50,000 people and ultimately thousands more from the fallout. I think parallels between that and Tuesday’s act can be drawn.

Hate leads to fear, which leads to even more violence. We must try to understand WHY a person or group would do this to us: Was their own freedom being compromised? I cannot believe that this is a random act of reckless hate. We say that they are jealous of our freedom and want to destroy what we have. I believe they want what we have in their own country, wherever that is, and they were trying this as a last resort.

I think that one of the most important points I would like to make is this: Violence to answer violence seldom solves anything. How is rushing over to kill more innocent people going to stop terrorism? Whoever did this was probably a small, organized group, notrepresentative of their nation as a whole, but if we strike out with our military might, we are going to take out a lot of innocent people with the few perpetrators. We must think, why are we so set on going to war? How does this make us any better than the persons who caused this? We have got to be rational about this situation, or thousands more innocent people are going to be killed.

People have been calling this “Our generation’s Pearl Harbor.” Let’s not make the same mistakes we did then. I am fearful that Americans are going to lash out at any person they see that looks Middle Eastern. This has happened before. Our government put thousands of Asians in internment camps after Pearl Harbor even though 99 percent of them had no desire to be connected to Japan, and many who were not even Japanese! Who’s to say that this won’t happen to Palestinian Americans now? We must make sure that it doesn’t.

Lastly, I want to sum up this letter. This is a horrible act that is unprecedented in this country, and this is a turning point in all of our lives. What we do now is an example for future generations in their struggles to live decent lives. If we strike out at the first enemy that we perceive, as we have a history of doing, just to placate many Americans who are now after blood, we will have done a great wrong.

If we do find the actual enemy and lash out at them, we will have solved nothing. More will be dead, probably many more than those who were to blame, and we will have stooped to our attackers’ level. It is true that terrorism is going to be a major hurdle from now on, but upping security and waging a war are not the answers. We must find a more permanent solution, within our government’s treatment of other countries and their policies. The President says that this is an act of war. Why does it have to be? There are so many other answers.


Patrick Liddy


Ryan Adams


The day the icons fell

The day the icons fell

I watched the towers collapse.

The fiery black dust exploded into the air,

Yet from my vantage point the American flag flies just above the green trees.

What was that?

What collapsed?

Did any THING die?

The center of capitalism is no more, but

The center does not hold the heart.

This thousandfold heart comes crawling from the debris


Burning paper-flesh stench in the air.

The collapse of the structure around

Reveals the broken husks of consumed humanity within.

At the last moment, the struggle to escape, to live,

To safely exit the structure,

To reclaim LIFE from the burning debris —

Whose life was changed today?

Whose life ended today?

Whose life began today?

Did the context change today?

Did even one human

Emerge from the smoldering rubble and stake its claim

On existence?

This day, 9-11

The emergency call came through.

Will we awaken from the American dream?

Jim Lindenschmidt

senior, philosophy

Finding common ground

To the Editor:

In the wake of unspeakable national tragedy, and on the brink of what will undoubtedly be a time that “tries men’s (and women’s) souls,” I seek to offer a word of comfort, of strength, and of hope to our USM community. As I pray for the nation and the world, I pray for our community. We are a diverse and complex society in these United States, and more so at USM. In the days ahead, we will find ourselves in very different places emotionally, politically, intellectually, and spiritually. What will matter most is not whether we are in agreement, or whether we are right or wrong, but whether we are able to be a community. That will ask of us more patience and good will than anything has before. I implore us all to seek the word of comfort and of truth that our souls and our diverse faith traditions offer, to seek the commonality of our membership in this community of learning, and to walk together into a future which is uncertain, but which is the future of us all.

Professor Hans Kung, in his Spring, 2000 Convocation lecture at USM, drew from his work in the Parliament of the World’s Religions. He said that there will not be peace in our world until there is peace among the world’s religions; that there cannot be peace among the world’s religions unless there is dialogue among the world’s religions; and that there is imbedded in the wisdom and sacred texts of the world’s religions all that we need in order to reach the goal of a peace on earth.

May it be so.

Andrea Thompson McCall

associate director, Portland Student Life *Community Service *Interfaith Programs & Services


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