In the midst of such tragedy, it’s hard to find comfort, let alone a sense of balance in our response to the attack and our nation’s impending response. But achieving a healthy sense of balance in our thoughts and actions is exactly what we must demand of ourselves right now.
We must strike a balance between being aware and being accusatory. A week ago people would have thought you were nuts if you said you were concerned about a terrorist attack. Now many are stocking up on water and food supplies. It is no longer unrealistic to think the Puget Sound could some day endure such tragedy at the hands of terrorists.
We cannot, however, allow such awareness to cause us to turn on our fellow Arab-Americans. Not only do they share in the country’s horror and fear of more assaults, they must also live in a constant state of fright that their neighbors and community members might hurt them. How devastating it must be to feel there is no safe place for you in your own country. In our new state of alertness, we should find such discrimination intolerable.
We must strike a balance between being patriotic and fanatical. A week ago people would have shook their heads at the site of American flags attached to car antennas and people wearing red, white and blue all the time. Now, practically everyone is ending sentences with a heartfelt, "God Bless You." People aren’t embarrassed to say the word prayer anymore and our long-bickering politicians are now united in purpose. We must not allow our patriotism to turn into fanaticism and cause division, though. We can be passionate without being paranoid.
We must strike a balance between inundation and ignorance. A week ago people would have told you to get a life if you spent all day in front of the TV. Now, you feel disloyal if you turn away for a second. On the other hand, there are people who spend so little time seeking news, they actually think it was the Israeli people who were dancing in the streets last week. We are all responsible to know what’s going on in our country and our world. An aversion to bad news is no excuse for such ignorance.
A sense of balance will be critical as the U.S. enacts its plan of retaliation. Some readers think we should avoid bloodshed at all costs. We respectfully disagree. This is a matter of choosing between peace-keeping and peace-making. There is a big difference.
America is mighty because it has historically chosen peace-making, even when such a choice has been unpopular and painful. Contrary to what some believe, the terrorists who struck Tuesday aren’t waiting for us to wage war; they’re waiting for us to do nothing.
Our actions must be well-studied and carefully carried out. Such actions will require loss of life. But no one should accuse America of starting a war. The war is already underway.
"Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust!"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave."