How Could This Happen?
Posted 09/21/01

This has nothing to do with toys - but this week I haven't felt too much like writing about toys.

Over the last week, I've heard the sentiment that is the title of this article echoed on television, radio and in conversation. How could anyone kill all those people, destroy so many lives, and bring down two of the largest structures in the world? What possible justification could they have?

I've seen children ask, how could someone hate us this much? Why were innocent people sacrificed? In churches, mosques and synagogues, these questions have been asked of God not just this last week, but over and over through the course of human history.

And then I look around me, and I see all the answers. It should be so obvious, but as usual we can't see the forest because of all those damn trees.

I've watched this week as people have fought over the 'right' way to show their support for the victims and appreciation of the rescue workers. Yes, that's right - they've fought over how to do good. Why would someone even tell another person that their way of showing support is 'stupid' or that it was only a method to gain publicity? That's easy - because they are desperate to be 'right'. They are not content to allow another to do what feel's right for them, but instead feel the overwhelming need to show them the way. In their world they are the only ones that can be right, and with that tremendous knowledge and wisdom comes a tremendous responsibility. They have to let you know how wrong you are. And sometimes, they'll go to any means necessary to convince you.

I was also unlucky enough to witness one of the greatest atrocities of the aftermath on television as I channel surfed around last week, looking for some respite from the visual horror. I was treated to two 'Christian' leaders, as they explained how this is partly the fault of Americans. Because of our Middle East policy? Oh, heavens no. Because of abortion, and gay rights, materialism (although it didn't look like either were shopping at the Suit Warehouse) and of course, liberals. They blamed anything that fit into their personal agendas, anything that would forward their personal crusades. Leaders have a responsibility to those they lead, and these two failed the test miserably. For them, their own self promotion and power took priority over the suffering of a nation.

And finally, I've witnessed the ugliest deeds of all on email lists, newsgroups, and in person. People attacking each other, blaming each other, and spouting their hatred based on the color of skin or the choice of religion. We pretend we've come so far with racism and hatred, and yet it boils to the top immediately in the face of this type of tragedy. This type of hatred wasn't learned last Tuesday - it's been there all along. Many of the people verbally and physically assaulting Muslim and Arab Americans are practically cackling with glee. You see, they've had to keep their mouths shut for so long, but they have the excuse they've been looking for. Now they can scream 'sand nigger' or 'raghead', and they get a hearty slap on the back for their patriotism.

So if you're looking for the answer to the question at the top of the page, then look no further than inside yourself and your neighbors. Take one or two leaders who have abdicated their responsibilities and put their own lust for power and control over all else, add in a big helping of believing you're the only one that's right, and mix it up with lots of racial, ethnic, or religious hatred - any flavor will do. What you end up with is the recipe for atrocities that seem unimaginable until they happen.

We will have to strike at the perpetrators of this heinous crime. To not do so simply invites them and others to do worse. What has happened is truly evil, and to do nothing would be irresponsible. The next few months will be a trying time for America and the world, and our response will be watched by everyone, including God. Let's be sure it's one we can be proud of.
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