By now, we're all horribly, sickeningly familiar with the events that have taken place in America over the past few days. The unthinkable has happened: acts of evil that would seem more at home in a Tom Clancy novel, or a made-for-TV movie than here in reality. The attacks on New York City's World Trade Center, the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and of course the plane crash in rural Pennsylvania are, quite simply, beyond all rational comprehension.
Like most of you, I have been glued to my TV set over the past few days, watching CNN, unable to turn from the unfolding drama south of the border. On Tuesday (the 11th, the day the attacks took place) I kept wondering if I wasn't actually having a bad dream. The images of the passenger jets slamming into the side of the WTC Towers, As well as the collapse of the towers, replayed over and over again on TV, are certainly the stuff of nightmares. The New York City skyline now looks like a beautiful smile with two teeth knock out of it.
I felt ashamed to call myself a human being yesterday. To think that some of my fellow human beings are capable of such atrocities made me feel sick to my stomach. But at the same time, the selfless and heroic rescue efforts of those on the scene, the outpouring of support and sympathy for the victims, the willingness by so many people to give blood to those who need it made me realize that this is humanity in its best, and I believe, truest form. The terrorists who committed these acts are, as far as I'm concerned, anti-human, and anti-life. There is absolutely no justification for what happened in the United States on Tuesday. I don't care what beefs some people may have against the U.S. It may even be true that American foreign policy abroad is less than perfect, I don't know. But these were not the acts of people who may have legitimate problems with the United States. These were acts by people in love with misery, horror, and death: that of others, and, ultimately, their own.
There's no question these terrorists, whoever they are, will have to be dealt with. And you know that America, and its allies, will go after these people. The terrorists have made a huge mistake if they think they'll get away with what they did. However: I've heard the word "revenge" tossed about over the past 2 days or so, and it is not a concept I'm comfortable with. Revenge is an irrational, emotional response, the sort of thing that America's enemies prattle on about. I would hope instead that America and its allies seek to bring the guilty parties to justice, fairly, but with force if necessary. And I hope "justice" doesn't become a euphemism for "revenge".
Of course, all eyes are turned towards the Middle East, where the U.S. has more than a few enemies: radicals sworn to its destruction. Based on what I've heard on the news so far, it would appear that the masterminds behind Tuesday's strikes are indeed based in the Mid-East. A radical Islamic group, or groups, perhaps. Whoever they are, they'll get theirs soon enough, I suspect. But you know, their victims weren't just the people on the airplanes and in the buildings. To a lesser extent, their victims could be said to include their fellow Muslims, the vast majority of whom are gentle, peace-loving people, whose faith is based on love, compassion, and a celebration of life itself. That is not the image most of us here in the West are familiar with, unfortunately. Whenever a Muslim is portrayed on TV, chances are he's a wild-eyed, gun-waving lunatic. The events of yesterday will not help matters one bit. And I fear repercussions against honest, law-abiding Muslims living here in North America.
Anyway, my heart is still heavy, and I'm concerned about tomorrow, but I haven't given up hope yet. I'm reminded of a comic strip (natch!) I saw a few months ago. It was a For Better Or For Worse strip, drawn by Lynn Johnson. After John's outdoor train set was demolished by neighborhood kids, John says he'll rebuild the thing. He tells Elly that people who build things have had to deal with vandals ever since civilization began. Elly asks, "What does that say about evolution?" John answers "The builders are winning!" Something to keep in mind at a time like this.
And now, if you'll forgive me, I'm gonna steal a bunch of stuff off the Sluggy Freelance website. In this case, I think Pete will understand...
American Red Cross, blood donations — (800) 448-3543
(please check with one of the toll-free numbers, or your local office, for more information)
Upstate New York, please call (800) 448-3543 or (800) 272-4543
New York City Region, please call (800) 692-5663 or (800) 933-2566 Washington, DC:
Blood donors in the DC area: 1-800-Give-Blood and 1-800-give-life
Donation Guidelines (please read!)
The Red Cross is only asking for type O blood right now, although they will need other types in the next couple of weeks to replenish supplies. They prefer if people call to make an appointment rather than just dropping in. Check the list below to make sure you qualify to give blood.
cannot give blood if you: Have, or have ever had, Hepatitis or heart disease.
Are feeling unwell, or have flu or cold symptoms.
Are under 17.
Are under 110 pounds.
Have already given blood within the last 8 weeks.
Have had dental work in the last week.
Have had a tattoo or piercing in the last year (depending on the method).
Have had a immunizations in the last month.
Are on prescription medication (some meds are ok).
You will also be asked if you have been out of the country in the last three years and where; travel to Europe is generally considered ok, Africa, Asia and Central/South America may disqualify you. For a more complete list of requirements, please visit http://www.redcross.org/services/biomed/blood/learn/eligibl.html
The number to call for Canadians is 1-800-2-DONATE (1-800-236-6283), and the official website is http://www.bloodservices.ca/. There are also a lot of local blood drives going on.
American Red Cross
Cash donations — (800) HELP-NOW
Red Cross donations through Amazon
Red Cross Donations through PayPal
Cash donations — (800) SAL-ARMY
Note: Donations to the Salvation Army should be marked : "for terrorist victims" or they may not make it to that fund.
Red Cross Resources
(This site has been down a lot recently)
Find loved ones: http://safe.millennium.berkeley.edu/
Doctors willing to volunteer their help should call (518) 431-7600.
Support Chat: http://chat.healthyplace.com
(There are many chat options on the internet now, this is just one of them. I haven't checked any of them, but this one looks official)
thoughts board: http://members2.boardhost.com/beltayeb/
(set up by Tayeb K. of Stuyvesant High School, NYC)
9-11 Memorial submissions (artwork, writings, etc.): http://www.crosswinds.net/~starnine/911/911.htm
My thoughts and prayers are with all the victims of this tragedy, and their loved ones.
Take care, everyone!