On Sept. 11 I cried. My heart ached as I watched the repeated footage of the airplane crash into the second World Trade Center tower. As I followed coverage during the day, I was filled with a “quiet, unyielding anger.” I wanted revenge like most Americans. I felt the terrorists attacked everything I believed in. Many people initially felt America needed to exact revenge for the worst terrorist act in history.
Justice needed to be served, and those terrorists needed to be “hunted down.” I agreed with all those immediate reactions. Then I became focused on a broader picture. Beyond all the horror and devastation of the recent attacks, I realize justice needs to be served; mob rule does not.
Instead of declaring war to kill the terrorists, I propose something different. We are not a mob and should not act as one. One of the hardest obstacles we will face in the upcoming months is remembering the values we espouse as a nation. The magnitude of this situation goes beyond the stereotypes of ethnicity, race, religion or gender and relies on loyalties that are purely ideological and physical.
Hunting down these terrorists is something that must be done, but it should not turn into a witch hunt. The terrorists that perpetrated this act are cowards because they were not strong enough to seek peace. They felt they had to take lives to prove their power and purpose.
Anyone can take a life, but it takes true strength and will to preserve life and to protect it. Rather than focus all energies on the witch-hunt we are in, it is now time for peace and reconciliation. In the past few days, the eye-for-an-eye mentality has swept across America. But the death of a handful of terrorists will not ease the pain. We must heal ourselves. Let us work on relieving the pain and suffering of our neighbors not inflicting more pain and suffering on the world.
The towers are gone. Yet we will rebuild, and we will find peace, safety and solace. Let us not forget that beyond our nation is a whole world that deals with violence on a daily basis and that there are places where the death of loved ones is a constant threat. Let us not forget the people killed at The World Trade Center and the Pentagon. They gave their lives for freedom, liberty and humanity and their deaths were not in vain.
It is up to us to remember their sacrifice. We have the capability to bring meaning to their deaths. If we bring peace to the world and give ourselves to the cause of peace, then their deaths will have meaning beyond martyrs in a terrorist attack. In the wake of this great tragedy, know that the smallest acts of compassion, hope and remembrance can outshine the greatest acts of terror and horror.
-The writer is a freshman majoring in international affairs.