We can't become terrorists
My brother missed death by minutes Sept. 11 as his commuter train pulled into the World Trade Center, his usual stop, shortly after the first plane struck the first tower. He was able to get out of the building and to safety before the second plane hit the second tower.
But I was an emotional wreck that morning, filled with fear and anger, thinking he probably was in the mix of death and destruction and not learning until later in the afternoon that he was safe.
My deeply-held beliefs in pacifism and non-violence were tested as I felt my anger toward those who had almost killed my brother and had killed thousands of the brothers and sisters of others.
However, I still support Rep. Barbara Lee's difficult decision to be the lone vote in Congress against using military force in retaliation for last week's attacks.
Like Ms. Lee, I was horrified by the terrorist attacks. But, also like her, I do not believe military force will be effective in stopping further violence against us.
I support a strong national and international law enforcement effort to capture and bring to trial those responsible for these hideous acts. Military actions, though, will perpetuate the cycle of violence and lead to more deaths.
And to truly disarm the terrorists and isolate them and their supporters, I believe the United States should immediately set three goals for Sept.11, 2011, the 10th anniversary of the attacks:
Use its considerable political, diplomatic and military power to ensure that all peoples of the world have a safe and secure homeland.
Seek the total elimination of all nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
Use the unprecedented wealth of our great country to see that no child in the world goes to bed with an empty stomach.
If we truly are the greatest nation in the world we are obligated to work to overcome the greatest challenges to world peace.
Like millions of other Americans, I spent the last week glued to the television hoping, I think, for some insight into how such a horror as these attacks could be real. Like many, I am struggling for answers which I will likely never have.
But one thing I have heard repeatedly worries me the most: The constant use of "prayer" and "war" in nearly the same breath.
If we are truly believers, regardless of our faith, we must trust that divine justice will prevail and we must protect human life -- all human life -- as precious and sacred.
As a nation, we are angry. We are wounded and we are scared. But we must not let these emotions get the best of us.
The press reports that thousands of Afghanis are fleeing their homes in anticipation of a retaliatory attack and that U.S. citizens of a certain skin shade dress (i.e. "Middle Eastern") and Islamic religious sanctuaries are being attacked by vigilantes bent on vengeance.
We must be very careful not to become terrorists ourselves.
Learning the lessons of terror and tragedy
Four of my family members were potentially in harm's way on Sept. 11. Call it a miracle or just plain good luck, but they were spared.
While I'm thankful beyond words for my family's good fortune, I'm also mindful of the anguish of those who have lost loved ones. And, with this mixture of thankfulness and sadness swirling around many of our lives, I'd like to express a few constructive suggestions we should all rally behind.
Not a penny for any more "Star Wars" nonsense, but billions more for increased airport security. Whether it be air marshals on every flight, strong doors on cockpits or a living wage for those who watch luggage through x-ray machines, let's spare no expense.
Bring the guilty to justice by any means possible, but don't kill thousands more innocent human beings in the process. We need to protect our country not our pride.
Don't condemn someone just because he or she is Arab, Moslem or foreign-born, but let's spend billions beefing up our borders and immigration laws. We need to keep undesirable aliens from entering or staying in our country.
I don't care if one of our cruise missiles killed someone's mother, nothing justifies the mind-boggling carnage that took place in New York or Washington. However, we need to take responsibility and learn more about what our government does in our name.
For most Americans the world ends at the border. But it's a big world out there. If we, as a nation, could put the brakes on our government when it intends to make really bad decisions overseas, the life we save might just be our own.
What have we learned from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks?
That Americans are vulnerable to lethal attacks by fanatical and dangerous people.
That all Americans can be proud of and grateful to countless other Americans who have given their lives, blood, money, support and heartfelt grief and prayers to the victims, families and friends who experienced loss.