after September 11, 2001, I volunteered to help
coordinate teams of massage therapists who were
working outside of the Medical Examiner's office
in New York City. All day and into the night, sirens
wailing, motorcycle police arrived with remains
recovered at Ground Zero. As each procession pulled
in beside the Medical Examiner's office, we stood
at attention, waiting for ambulance attendants to
carry flag-draped stretchers inside. Throughout
the city, photographs of missing people clung to
poles and park fences and subway walls. In Grand
Central Station, commuters stopped to stare, quietly
and with reverence, at photographs of those who
were, most likely, buried beneath several stories
of World Trade Center rumble. Soon after the towers
fell, George W. Bush arrived at Ground Zero to announce
that someone would pay for this terrible crime.
No one knew who had attacked New York, and no one
knew why, but Mr. Bush assured the nation that he
would exact revenge for this act of mass murder.
In order to show the world that it is wrong to kill
ordinary people, ordinary people would have to die.
September 11, 2001, the killing in Afghanistan and
Iraq has continued unabated. Since September 11,
2001, terrorist attacks throughout the world have
escalated. In Iraq, suicide bombers blow people
to pieces every single day. In Madrid, terrorists
blew commuter trains apart. In London, bombers struck
the subway system and bombed a bus crowded with
people on their way to work. In New York City, where
two of my children live, most people go about their
business with a certain fatalistic joie de vivre.
After each attack in some other part of the world,
the mayor of New York City and the governor of New
York State rush out to encourage people not to be
afraid. Keep going to work, they say. Keep shopping.
Keep riding the subways and buses. Don't let the
terrorists break the American spirit. We are tougher,
say these chauffeur-driven cheerleaders, we are
more determined, we are freer, braver, smarter,
stronger, just altogether better than the terrorists.
New Yorkers simply assume that another attack on
their city is inevitable. It might be years or it
could be tomorrow, but sooner or later someone will
plant a bomb on a crowded bus or subway, someone
will detonate a car or truck loaded with explosives,
someone will walk into Grand Central Station during
the rush hour with a bomb strapped to their waist.
And every day New Yorkers descend into subway stations,
jam onto buses, climb tall buildings inside of claustrophobic
elevators; they spend one more day inside a world
that might explode at any moment.
morning I turn on the 8:00 a.m. news, frightened
by what I might see, relieved when the weatherman
gives his report and a woman in a helicopter describes
traffic jams and then someone demonstrates a new
technique for losing weight. I travel often to New
York City, ostensibly to visit a museum or to go
out to dinner with my children. I do enjoy their
company and they mine, but the real reason I spend
so much time in the Big Apple is because I want
to be there when the next attack occurs. I suppose
this desire is based on the delusional idea that
I can protect my children from harm. If I'm close
by, they will escape injury or death when the next
homicidal lunatic or a group of lunatics attacks
unarmed civilians. I want to act as a human shield
between my children and those who wish to kill them.
And before I die, I want just one second to spit
in the face (not a very nonviolent act, but after
) of people who think their god, or any
god, would approve of the cold -blooded, calculated,
murder of children.
do not care to hear why so-called Islamic fundamentalists
want to murder black, white, yellow, brown, Jewish,
Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim children.
I'm sick of left wing pundits and I'm terrified
of right wing evangelists. All I really want to
know is how we, parents of the world, can work together
to save our children from those who believe that
it's their sacred duty to destroy the world in order
to save it. I want to know how parents-Jewish, Muslim,
Hindu, Buddhist, agnostic, and atheist-can work
to together to save our children from those who
wish to kill them in the name of God, or in the
name of peace, or justice, or "democracy,"
or other righteous causes. I want to band together
with parents who wish to see their (our) children
live to have children of their own.
going to start with a personal pledge:
know how idealistic this must sound to a world conditioned
to believe in the efficacy of violence, but I see
no other way out of this cataclysmic cul-de-sac
inside of which our children are condemned to die.
The choice seems quite simple to me: Either we,
the world's parents, unite to save our children,
or we will be forced to live in constant fear that
they will be sacrificed on the altar of religious
and political fanaticism. Terrorists, and those
who claim to wage war on terrorists, will never
stop killing until we, parents of the world, unite
to denounce violence against our own children. Terrorists,
and those who terrorize people in the name of democracy
and freedom, have at least one thing in common.
They believe that some children are expendable in
order to create a world in which, according to these
ideologues, all children will live and learn according
to some "divinely-inspired" principles.
a parent of four children, two of them living in
a city that lost thousands of people on September
11, 2001, I say to hell with Mr. bin Laden and Mr.
Bush and all of the fools who think they speak for
the sanctified state or for God when they countenance
killing children. When we parents of the world decide
to work together to save our children, no power
on earth can defeat us.
editorial is my way of launching the Save the Children
campaign. I hope that millions and millions of parents
will soon join this effort to protect the world's