Numbed Senses and Broken Hearts
do we do? A shroud of grief and fear has fallen over us since the
horrific events at the World Trade Center and at the Pentagon. The
attacks represent a national disaster and a human tragedy. We are
shocked and hurting, angry and confused.
The catastrophic attacks
of September 11 have exploded our routine, numbed our senses, broken
our hearts, and left us groping to understand such an obscene assault on
humanity. How could this happen? Who could be so cruel? The questions
baffle and frustrate.
Yet our sense of pain and sorrow pales before
the agony being experienced by those injured or displaced and the
relatives and friends of the dead.
Grief remains one of the few
emotions powerful enough to silence us, but we can move forward only by
giving voice to our pain and confusion. "Give sorrow words," said
William Shakespeare. "The grief that does not speak," he added,
"whispers the o'er fraught heart and bids it break." Telling stories
about lives lost and lives saved helps heal broken hearts.
grieve openly for the dead and wounded; we pray for the family and
friends of the victims; we applaud the heroic efforts by police, fire,
rescue, and medical teams.
Grief demands such expression. Through
our words and our sorrow, we help to salve the pain of shock and loss.
"Blessed are they that mourn," says the Bible, "for they shall be
Our grief can also be expressed through our actions. Many
have already donated blood or sent financial contributions to the Red
Cross. Others have participated in prayer vigils and memorial services.
cannot erase such a tragedy, but neither can we let it paralyze us. Nor
can we let it unleash ugly ethnic prejudice in the name of revenge.
Just as a terrible injustice was unleashed against Japanese-Americans in
the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, Arab-Americans are being subjected to
attacks and abuse. Such vengeful stereotyping must stop.
not allow acts of terror to terrorize us or to hijack our sense of
fairness and due process. Or to shove us into the ditch of despair.
preferred response to Tuesday's horrors is that we rededicate ourselves
to the values that have long distinguished the United States-family and
faith, civility and humanity, compassion and tolerance-even in the face
of barbarity and hate.
Let us resolve not to let the deaths of
so many innocent men, women, and children go unredeemed. With each
passing hour, with every successive day, we must strive ever harder to
support one another, regardless of our religious or ethnic background.
can best sustain ourselves in the face of such tragic circumstances by
enacting our strong sense of community and caring. And by refusing to
let our own spirits die. Grief is a process, not a final destination. We
must choose life, however insecure it has suddenly become.
answer to the terrorist outrage is redemption, to seek the facts that
lead to justice and understanding, and to live again. With the poet John
Donne, we should shout that death shall be no more, that death shall
die-through our own unflagging commitment to lives of meaning and