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How 9/11 Changed Our Lives | The Nation

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How 9/11 Changed Our Lives

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How 9/11 Changed Our Lives

Hundreds of readers, aged 16 to 94, replied to our request for letters detailing how September 11 changed (or didn't) "your views of your government, your country, your world, your life." Many responses are personal: A husband and wife separate; family members no longer speak to one another; a woman searches for, and finds, her biological father--all impelled by the fallout of that day. New Yorkers--and others--report sleeping less soundly; a Brooklyn man leaps from bed in the night at the sound of crashing booms, rushes to the window... and finds it's a thunderstorm. A woman recovering from a Caesarean section watches the towers fall from her hospital room and wonders what sort of world her son, born the day before, will grow up in. A reader whose 9/11 birthday has become a deathday vows to light a candle this birthday "in hope for our world that one day 9/11 will become a day that...changed us for the better." Below is a selection.
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Enlightenment fanboys… we are funding football… ‘And gladly teche…’

Demand green, people!… “vices and follies”… Goodbye, Confucius… whiter shade of pale…itsy bitsie tennie weenie… why? why? why?…

Rolla, ND

Largely because of my age--75--September 11 didn't change my life one iota. Except for this: My reaction to the fascist foragings of John Ashcroft and the dude who sponsored him, "Shrub," has been to rejoin the ACLU after an absence of twenty-seven years.

K.W. SIMONS


Columbus, Ohio

How has my life changed since September 11? My life goes on much the same--except that I'm not living in America anymore. In America, people are not disappeared. In America, cherished constitutional rights are not abolished with the stroke of a pen. In America, disagreeing with the government doesn't make you a terrorist. In America, ordinary citizens don't have to wonder whether their e-mail is being read and phone conversations taped by government agents. In America, there is no Ministry of Truth (for telling lies) or Ministry of Love (for making war). America doesn't wage unending war. America doesn't casually threaten first-strike use of nuclear weapons. I see the nation I love, in its fear and rage, stinging itself to death like a scorpion.

LINDA SLEFFEL


New Haven, Conn.

Our government's militaristic response to the crimes of 9/11 and the failure of the Democratic Party to challenge Bush's flawed and self-serving war on terrorism pushed me, after thirty-four years as an active antiwar Democrat, into working for the Green Party in our November 2001 municipal elections. Today, I am a Green Party candidate for the US House of Representatives.

Unlike the "Arthur Andersen Democrats" and the "Enron Republicans" against whom I'm running, I am a patriot who is not afraid to challenge the so-called Patriot Act, which guts the Bill of Rights, or the "war" on terrorism, which has killed hundreds of innocent civilians, created more terrorists, earned more profits for military contractors and made the world safer for oil companies but more dangerous for the rest of us. Vote Green in November.

CHARLIE PILLSBURY


Valparaiso, Ind.

September 11 changed my life because of the government's immediate response and continuing abuse of it as an excuse to erode civil liberties. So what have I done? I subscribed to The Nation for the first time ever (I'm 25), and so far have given away three gift subscriptions. I began giving money monthly to environmental and pro-choice organizations, as well as regular donations to the ACLU. Motivated by John Ashcroft's total disregard for the Constitution, I will be going to law school in the fall of 2003 to join the ranks of those who work on the side of justice that strengthens and protects civil liberties.

KAYTIE FREY


Alexandria, Va.

I was in the Pentagon on September 11. Our office was on the opposite side of the building, and as we filed out none of us guessed how horrible it was until we saw, from the parking lot, the columns of smoke. That first evening, amid the shock and sense of loss, I thought, "This is what blowback really means." No one can excuse Al Qaeda's murderous hatred, but I now realize that this terror network was made possible by the arms and money we provided the Afghan mujahedeen during our demented anti-Soviet crusade. Those Americans who supported these thugs and psychopaths should be ashamed. Whenever I see that antidrug ad that claims that buying pot helps terrorists, I am reminded that our own cold war "patriots" helped to slaughter 3,000 people, and tried to kill me at my desk.

JOHN ZAVALES


Dania, Fla.

Prior to 9/11 I spent my 83 years maturing in a cocoon spun by America's fuzzy, heroic image. While well aware of its flaws, I had been sustained by an aura of essential good will as we fought fascism, rebuilt Europe, forgave former enemies. My cocoon erupted on 9/11, and I emerged irate but deeply troubled by the vision of an America that would justify such an attack. I realized our Marshall Plan spirit had morphed into a superpower mentality, where political problems are solved by bombs rather than sweet reason: Witness Vietnam, Baghdad, Panama City, Belgrade, Afghanistan. With knee-jerk enthusiasm we've obliterated infrastructures and dealt out "collateral damage" to poor nations. No wonder we've become a target for organized hate. Can we curb our arrogance and revive our image as people of good will before we self-destruct?

LLOYD EDWARD SLATER


Bristol, Vt.

I am of the generation that reached maturity in the 1960s and '70s. A time of struggle and pain, yes, but also of hope. We marched, fought, demanded a new world paradigm. Comes Reagan and my righteous generation finds greed. What then happened to that promise? Sweet upward mobility; the dawn of our renunciation. The 2000 election fiasco. A leader takes power by judicial coup and not a whimper from the streets, and I cannot comprehend. I am lost.

September 11. Our hand is forced. The time for intelligence, discussion, debate, understanding, reflection has come, yes?

No. Wrong again. Now we love our fear. Good versus Evil this is, and we joyfully surrender our liberties, our humanity and embrace a permanent state of war with an omnipotent, omnipresent enemy. Our new paradigm: sadism. I am not prepared for such a savage reversal of fortune. I am ashamed.

MICHAEL TORRE


Los Angeles

After the savage attacks on September 11, I felt scared, angry, confused. Days later, I found my way to an interfaith service at All Saints Church in Pasadena. I was deeply moved by the scriptural readings, prayers and songs offered by Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and others. Out of that healing event, we created Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (www.icujp.org), which has been the center of my personal efforts to contribute to greater understanding and lasting reconciliation between people of all nationalities and beliefs. At a study group arranged by ICUJP, I sat next to an African-American Muslim teacher. He turned to me and said he didn't have a Torah. I responded that I didn't have a Koran. At the next meeting, we exchanged our holy scriptures. It brought us closer together, and we have become friends.

STEPHEN F. ROHDE


Bellingham, Wash.

After the initial shock/grief came the stunned recognition of the despair and deep hatred felt against the United States, then finally the gut-wrenching knowledge that the vast majority of US citizens love being hated. They shower approval on the Administration and Congress for every piece of legislation that increases US killing power, entrenches inroads on constitutional freedoms and inflicts economic and physical handicaps and health hazards on all the populations of the planet.

The Pentagon/Administration response to the "act" was so fast, the erosion of civil liberties so quickly and deftly accomplished, flags blanketed the continent so speedily and providentially--I can't help but think that the act of terrorism was not only expected but that contingency plans had been prepared months, perhaps years in advance--a Stalinist-type master plan. These duplicitous plans have been welcomed and incorporated into everyday living with hardly a ripple to indicate a residue of thoughtfulness or alternative possibilities.

Yes, I am changed. I am ashamed of my country and bitterly acknowledge that there is no prospect of new directions.

K.W. LEW


Englewood, NJ

September 11 changed my life by directing my 94-year-old, still-functioning wits and remaining energies from the sheltered smugness of an assisted-living home out again into the real world with a determined campaign to compel G.W. Bush to answer this key question: Why were no jets commanded to divert those three lethal hijacked planes after each had appeared off-course on radar and all failed to obey the orders of air controllers? Why, Mr. Bush?

JANE SHERMAN LEHAC


Tucson

Liars! From the very top on down, my government does not know the meaning of the word "truth." In light of the billions of dollars we spend on electronic communication monitoring installations at Menwith Hill, Britain, and at several sites in the continental United States, we taxpayers have been deceived. Our NSA claims to have worldwide monitoring capabilities over all electronic communications.

It is inconceivable that with all the electronic communications before 9/11, some intelligence was not deciphered and passed on to the appropriate officials. When, where, by whom was the necessary intelligence intercepted, interpreted, analyzed, collated and forwarded to the responsible agencies and parties? Polygraphs everyone?

JAMES B. BURKHOLDER
Colonel, US Army, retired


Glenford, NY

September 11 has reinforced all my negatives: suspicion of government motives; frustration at the perpetuation of failed policies; horror at the immense war budget; fear of nuclear proliferation; opposition to oppressive and domineering globalization; anger at support given to repressive regimes while raving and ranting at Cuba; despair that an equitable Middle East solution cannot override oil interests; and finally, that we are doing absolutely nothing to address the grievances of "terrorists" while eroding our own democracy and allowing degradation of the environment.

GERTRUDE HAMES


Nantes, France

September 11 is an American hegemonical construct, a good guys vs. evil vision that is as much a part of American cultural imperialism as McDonald's or the latest Hollywood movie. Sycophantic French politicians and intellectuals (like Bernard Henri-Levy) quickly proclaimed that "we are all Americans." The result has been a frustrating diversion from the real issues. To limit the discussion to terrorism--who has the world's biggest arsenal of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons? Who refuses to sign any treaty outlawing them, or landmines for that matter? Who--and for good reason--refuses to reject genocide or pre-emptive nuclear strikes? The biggest threat to world peace today is not minuscule terrorist groups but the US government. As an American who has lived in France for the past twenty years, for me September 11 epitomizes the self-centered worldview of too many of my countrymen.

GENE ZBIKOWSKI


Albuquerque

I have not felt so alienated from this country since Nixon was elected to a second term after Watergate and all his misdeeds in Southeast Asia. I was so devastated by the instantaneous deaths of so many people, and then so appalled by the nationalistic frenzy, the lust for revenge and the level of pure propaganda in the mainstream media. So much emotional manipulation, so little cogent analysis. Having Bush in the White House made it all much harder for me, given his general ignorance of foreign affairs and his entourage of cold warriors. I have never appreciated the alternative press, especially The Nation, so much.

BEVERLY BURRIS


North Bend, Ore.

I'm a Democrat and former Green Beret with a BA in political science and get my news primarily from ABC, NPR and BBC radio. After Al Qaeda spectacularly murdered a couple thousand Americans, we "brought death" to Afghanistan in retaliation, belying "Clinton's weakening" of our forces. That twice as many Afghan citizens died collaterally, many Americans died from friendly fire and Al Qaeda apparently returned to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, might bear investigation. No?

On the home front, our Attorney General has, modestly, hidden Justice, and God knows what else, but the anthrax murders remain unsolved. Our National Security Adviser's patent culpability for the attack's success is unremarked upon. Republicans' malfeasance, ideological incoherence and compassionless corporatism, ever more glaring, go unchallenged. Do most Americans still want a national health plan? Yes?

Nothing has changed, nor will it unless Democrats fix Dumbya and try a testicular implant (metaphorically speaking, of course!).

GORDON STRASENBURGH


Long Beach, Calif.

September 11 is a lot about the enemy from without. But the enemy from without will never, try though it may, extinguish the American experiment. We Americans, on the other hand, are armed and capable of such a result. As I fear us more than them, September 11 has little changed my life.

KEITH McCALLIN


St. Louis

I am of Indian origin and before September 11 learned to avoid racism by presenting myself in a relentlessly middle-class fashion. And if the precise diction, discreet deodorant and the late-model four-door sedan proved insufficient, then out came the race card. "Is my race a problem?" I would ask with a faint British intonation. I felt a sense of entitlement in challenging the closet racial profiler to deny his own prejudices.

But 9/11 changed all that. My identity as a comfortably assimilated immigrant who moves easily among various cultures, languages and geographical regions has been shown to be a fragile myth. To the security guards at the malls, airports and theme parks around the country, I look like the sister of the nineteen hijackers. My cosmopolitanism, my ability to read ancient Tamil love poetry, my advanced degrees become irrelevant in the face of such appalling culpability.

ANUSHIYA SIVANARAYANAN


Harrisonburg, Va.

"We'll never be the same," broadcasters kept pronouncing while replaying jets slamming towers. That sounded so false, from people worried about their makeup surviving marathon airtime. (Do I seem cold?) My firstborn son died from an auto accident on August 11, 2001. I don't expect to be the same. A month later, I felt families' desperate waits, dwindling hopes. Not the urge for revenge; I lacked that option. Leaders who scare me more than bin Laden jumped to exploit the revenge rush, while the "commentariat" lock-stepped in boosting an amorphous war, blowing off civil liberties. My faith in journalism tanked. I'm a freelance reporter. An apparent economic fallout from 9/11 was the folding of a little alternative magazine I wrote for. I still feel powerless, but better since visiting a conference to interview peacebuilders from several continents. Their spirits moved me. Accustomed to danger, children dying, they hadn't given up.

CHRIS EDWARDS


Flat Gap, Ky.

Everything changed with the Supreme Court's appointment of George W. Bush, not with the events of September 11. Like a bicycle ride along a peaceful country road when a pack of dogs run out from nowhere and bite your ankle, any sense of security is now an open wound. Even the dogs on your own front porch become suspect and you lose your trust.

CATHERINE S. WELLS


Omaha Indian Reservation, Macy, Neb.

On September 11, Ariel Sharon said all Americans are Israelis, learning that terror can strike anywhere, anywhen. With equal conviction, Yasir Arafat might have said all Americans are Palestinians, compelled to retaliation and pre-emption. Although these metaphors are apt, neither is accurate.

Rather, it may be said with supreme justification that all Americans are Native American Indians, living under occupation by a hostile government ever ready to liquidate our life, liberty, property--our pursuit of happiness--in conducting an endless, self-righteous campaign.

Presaging the Department of Homeland Security, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has extraordinary powers, employing DOJ, FBI, CIA and military enforcement and investigations. Intelligence responsibilities are debated, ignoring our experiences: Feds rarely uncover evidence; they create it, solving mysteries and preventing disasters only by expropriating the work of others. Their goals are to destroy, not protect; to master, not serve. Heed us, America. Our plight is yours--our history, your future.

J. WILLIAM MORELAND
Chief Judge, Omaha Tribal Court


Legnica, Poland

I'm a 73-year-old retired American academic who witnessed the events of September 11 on CNN here in Poland. Initial reactions: outrage, angry "patriotism" and a powerful helplessness. As reason replaced reaction, those feelings diminished.

The attack? Inevitable. Built on US ignorance and arrogance and exclusion. Why do they hate us? Years of ruinous intervention and destabilization of Third World countries, especially those seeking self-determination in leftist political movements. September 11 unleashed religious and political fundamentalist zeal, a manic frenzy of "security" threatening constitutional safeguards.

Polish officials assured me of protection. As an Arab-American, would I suffer abuse at home? Life-change? Yes. 9/11 sharpened my sense of responsibility for others. Sadly, the hatred that generated the attacks has not provoked objective intellectual examination of cause, has only brought a violent reactionary backlash effect. The conscience of America remains where it was: anesthetized by greed, racism, nationalism and impotent leadership.

JAMES E. HASHIM


Media, Pa.

I drive tractor-trailers, tankers. I could do great harm to thousands of people without learning or buying a thing, with a good chance of getting away and doing it again. The fitful inspections of a few trucks after 9/11 are long gone. Since neither means nor opportunity need restrain anyone's hand for long, I was naïve enough to hope that 9/11 might launch some citizen debate on applying the golden rule to the rest of the planet. Our collective reaction to 9/11 has taught me that self-interest and intelligence are not as intertwined as I had hoped.

MATT BECKER


Cazadero, Calif.

September 11 haiku:
   among the rubble
   the chickens come home to roost
   waking us up now

SUSAN SEITZ


Brooklyn, NY

I am a songwriter and visual artist, and I thought I would go home that evening to document the day in words and images, but I found I couldn't. I just watched the smoke rising, from my window in Brooklyn. I found that there were experiences too deep for words or songs. That night I wrote in my journal:
  I have no songs to sing, until I can sing all songs
   I try to speak, but I have no voice until I can have all voices
   I would call on God but I think that God will only answer
   to all of his names, spoken as one.

KEVIN ZIEGENHAGEN-SLICK


Princeton, NJ

There were oblique benefits. There was commercial-free network TV for four days after 9/11. The twin towers had been the worst hazard of all on the Atlantic flyway, and during three decades of autumn and spring migration on a few mornings, fallouts of thousands of shorebirds and passerines lay on the asphalt below them.

The worst did not occur. If planes had been flown into the Indian Point and Three Mile Island reactors, probably failing to penetrate the containment chambers but destroying the surrounding cooling systems, there could have been millions dead and dying after meltdown.

And there was unintended bathos. In the hours following, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf suggested that it might have been the Montana Militia.

D.E. STEWARD


Ithaca, NY

What surprises and disappoints me is how little has changed since the terrorist attacks. I thought the horrific death and destruction on our own soil so clearly demonstrated hatred and resentment toward us that we would work ceaselessly to implement an evenhanded approach to Israel and Palestine. I thought our leaders would ask us to make some sacrifices, and we'd give up our SUVs and other aspects of our everyday life built on oil gluttony and being beholden to Saudi Arabia. I thought a successful attack with box-cutters would highlight the stupidity of "missile defense" and we'd begin to change how we spent our defense dollars. I thought we'd finally acknowledge we need transportation diversity and begin creating a healthy passenger rail system with less dependence on air travel. I thought we'd become less unilateral and work harder to build alliances and honor treaties. I was so wrong.

JUDY JENSVOLD


Stony Brook, NY

September 11 has not changed my life. It has accentuated and invigorated my desire to return home, to Jaffa, Palestine, as soon as possible. I am a graduate student at a US university, and I have not felt as strong a desire to return to my culture, national history and values as in the aftermath of what has become an American right to a moment in time called "9/11."

I came to this country with as little animosity as possible for a Third World colonized citizen, hoping to refute all I had learned as a child. I am about to leave with repugnance, wrath and hopelessness toward an arrogant, brutally hypocritical, mass-destructive autocracy, the United States of America, governed not only by its political head but by its willfully ignorant people.

MARY GEDAY


Daytona Beach, Fla.

Having come to America from the Philippines, a country colonized by Spain and the United States and then brutalized by the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, I learned early the meaning and the beauty of freedom. The longer I lived here, the better I appreciated how precious freedom has been in all its manifestations.

Then came September 11. In a matter of minutes, I learned that the thing I have held as so sacred in my life could also be fragile. Why, why? How could there be so much hate when America is the one country that has welcomed people of all colors, races and religious creeds to share in its blessings of freedom?

September 11 taught me more than ever that America is worth fighting and dying for; that out of the ashes, we shall emerge stronger and more united, and that my adopted country will continue to be a shining beacon for the rest of the world.

REMIGIO G. LACSAMANA


Salem, Mass.

I lost my brother to murder in 1984. Some people reacted with dismay that my opposition to the death penalty didn't change. Did they think this principle was based on some bizarrely naïve idea that people never commit terrible crimes? Or was it that the closer to home a perpetrator strikes, the harsher the appropriate punishment? A family conflict erupted after the murder: Was it legitimate to try to understand how these two young men had arrived at the point of committing this crime, to examine the social web of race and class in which they and my brother intersected, or was such an examination tantamount to offering an excuse for what they'd done?

Change the details, and precisely these same tensions have characterized the public debate following September 11. I hope we Americans can work through them patiently and thoughtfully, as my family and I have had to do.

AMY GLUCKMAN


Gays Mills, Wisc.

The events of 9/11 have strongly reaffirmed my commitment to my intentional community, Dancing Waters Permaculture Co-op, created to remove land from the debt cycle through collective ownership. Using consensus decision-making, our collective is a nonviolent attempt to demonstrate an alternative to the capitalist, consumerist ideology that the terrorists symbolically targeted when they attacked the World Trade Center.

KATHLEEN TIGERMAN


Bristol, Vt.

The worst thing was going out into my yard while the towers were burning. My cats were there, our garden was a jungle and the Vermont day was so beautiful it hurt. My heart was pounding. I wondered if these simple things that brought me such joy would even exist for another month, another week, another hour.

Unfortunately, with the White House occupied by people who make Dr. Strangelove and General Ripper look normal, I still wonder how long we will have our freedom or our lives. I can't say I am optimistic, but miracles can and do happen. Love must happen on earth, or none of us will survive.

LINDA WIGGIN


Garfield Heights, Ohio

Having been involved with the movement to shut down the WHISC/SOA for several years, I sat in a bus stop in Cleveland after my school was evacuated on September 11 with the terrible feeling that these attacks were some sort of repercussion of US foreign policy.

As the antiwar movement began to take shape, I became involved as soon as possible. I feel that a change in US foreign policy of militarization and neoliberal economics isn't just needed, it is imperative to the survival of this country, and possibly the world.

I participated in the antiwar demonstrations on September 29, and many more since then. September 11 changed my life in the sense that I now feel that being a single-issue or armchair activist isn't enough, that I must be involved in what I believe and educated and involved in other people's struggles.

ALEX IWASA


Oxford, Ohio

The first news I received of the attacks came from my government teacher. The tragedies of that day shocked me more than any event in my seventeen years. Something else that happened was almost as surprising to me. Alongside pictures of toppled buildings came pictures of people in other countries holding vigil for America. That people all over the world cared that much about America surprised me. I knew that we have friends and allies, but it never seemed they were that close to us. We don't seem to feel as much solidarity with others. Instead of doing our part in the world, we do things such as not participating in the Kyoto Protocol and the International Criminal Court. It seems we only act when our interests are threatened. America is shown great friendship by other countries--we need to learn how to give friendship back.

HARRY NEACK


Mt. Pleasant, SC

September 11 made me, an 18-year-old living in the suburbs, much more cynical, and that's difficult to do. When our leaders had an unprecedented opportunity to lead, all I got was a bunch of talk (unless a behemoth military budget counts as "leadership"). And when I expected citizens to be shaken from their 1990s isolationist, stock-market-is-booming delirium, all I got was the irony of an SUV with huge American flags posted all over it. I really don't intend to sound rude or coldhearted; I was just as shocked, saddened and outraged when I saw the CNN footage. But unity and resolve are not jingoism. And a just response is not unilateralism and carpet-bombing. If the so-called Bush Doctrine is all the "change" I can expect from our leaders (and the willful submission of others, Democrats), then I wish I was ignorant enough not to care. The biggest tragedy of 9/11, aside from the appalling loss of human life, is one of missed opportunity on the part of the government and the failure of its citizens to call them on it.

BRADY WELCH


Alexandria, Va.

I cannot identify with the notion that "nothing will ever be the same again." That's a young person's view. For those of us pushing 60, the world turned on its head when Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were killed. With them died the strong possibility of social change. By the time Reagan took office, many of us had stopped caring. I know I did.

Oddly, September 11 has made me care again. Not the attacks, which were an outrage, but the federal government's response--the so-called war on terrorism, with its shameful trampling of civil liberties, its reckless threats to engage in war against Iraq and its self-righteous moralizing about "goodness" here and "evil" there. I feel an urgent need to work for peace and nonviolence once again.

JOSEPH BARBATO


Price, Utah

My quest to tell the truth led me in midlife to my dream career. I became a reporter for my hometown newspaper. There wasn't a lot of hard news, but the opinion page allowed me to explore broader issues and excite discussion in my community. That all ended on September 11, when exciting discussion became unpatriotic. Censorship and my ensuing protest cost me my job. Mainstream media, I learned, is often the purveyor of silence.

But I have become the resister of silence. I print copies of antiviolence fliers from my home computer to plaster on windshields, and I have discovered independent media. The little girl who was afraid of the sound of her own voice spoke to a crowd on the steps of the State Capitol at a peace rally on April 20. The small-town reporter spoke the truth, and her voice was heard around the world.

Orwell said, "During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." On September 11 this middle-class, middle-aged middle American became a revolutionist.

JACKIE ANDERSON


Berkeley, Calif.

The horrifying events of September 11 and the mushrooming horrors unleashed (war, racism, loss of civil liberties) have changed me. Disgusted by the vapid rhetoric of patriotism, I realized how profoundly I prize this continent and its progressive heroes and how repulsed I am by nationalism everywhere. I ache for a transformed world but am more uncertain how we will get there. We cannot be cast forever as sacrifices in someone else's nightmare: Bush's "limited nuclear war," religious fundamentalisms' apocalyptic wet dreams, capitalism's age-old werewolf hunger.

As a lesbian, feminist, Marxist-humanist, I know that Bush, bin Laden, Sharon and Hamas would certainly agree to hate and silence me. So part of my struggle is to live: fiercely cherishing lovers, friends, allies and the beauties of this vital planet.

JENNIFER RYCENGA


Stanford, Calif.

September 11 and its aftermath have made me afraid for this country. The attacks were tragic evidence that an America once loved and admired around the world is now an object of hatred. Instead of asking why, the Bush Administration and a complaisant Congress used the event as an excuse to kill more innocent people in Afghanistan, justify a bloated military budget, harass immigrants, jail suspects without charges, institute domestic spying and erode civil liberties in the name of "security." I worry about the callous brutality shown when our leaders debate over when and how to launch a war on Iraq, but show no concern for the thousands of Iraqi people who are certain to be killed in such a war. In short, I am afraid that in waging George Bush's open-ended "war on terrorism" America will become the most dangerous terrorist of all.

RACHELLE MARSHALL


Chapel Hill, NC

As I watched the towers fall on TV from my home in Prescott, Arizona, on September 11, I shed tears not only for the horror and tragedy of the attacks, but also in anticipation of the reaction of our government at home and abroad. Later I headed two hours north to my favorite cathedral, the Grand Canyon, for some solitude, silence and perspective. I quit my job and now find myself back in my native North Carolina, about to embark on a PhD program in political science.

People hear what I'm doing and say, Good luck changing the system. I say, Well, thank you. Because if at any age I ever lose my idealism and vision for global social, economic and environmental justice, I pray someone will put me on a bus to the canyon for a little perspective.

JENNIFER E. WEAVER


Claremont, Calif.

I have been stunned by how a coup d'état can take place in America. The combination of irregular presidential election, traumatic terrorist attack, administrative control by radical conservatives and the intimidation and cowardliness of the opposition have achieved incredible changes. Our country now has an endless war policy, unilateral withdrawal from international agreements, illegal detentions, threats to constitutional rights and theft of the people's resources for military ends. The well-oiled evince a voracious appetite for world domination and homeland insecurity. I feel like an alien in my beloved land, now a place of nightmares.

Can we wake up and reclaim our freedom? I work toward a community of communities across this land who dream a new vision and turn fear, suspicion and greed into generosity and justice for all.

PAT PATTERSON


Hawley, Mass.

After the horror let go of my throat I thought, that's it, thirty-five years of work for peace and equality down the tubes. Our leaders will now have license to bomb anywhere, anytime, void the Bill of Rights and shoo away dissent with the flag. They won, we lost.

But wait. History doesn't change course in a day. The world a year after the attacks looks a lot like the world before 9/11. Liberty imperiled as always, hard cheese for poor people and poor societies, our leaders choosing which tyrants to support and which to overthrow, the rich in power. But the loony system they rule is weaker, not stronger, than a year ago--is bumping into its own homemade contradictions. If anything, the terrorists deepened its confusion. I'm ready to rise up once more against it.

RICHARD OHMANN

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