An Attack On All
Of The Free World
From: "Ruth Saunders"
To: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <email@example.com>
Subject: RE: A Beacon for Survivors (Heroic Stories)
Date: September 11, 2001 10:31 PM
I am sending this out to our e-list subscribers because part of me is not handling today's news very well. I openly invite our readers to write to me and tell me how you are doing: how are you coping with today's news?
Unlike you, I do have TV and radio, so I'm watching the news come in on BBC News 24. I first heard it at work (we're obviously several hours ahead of you, so it was early afternoon) and almost immediately London -- where nothing was actually happening -- seethed with police like a kicked anthill, and because I'm a government worker, our building's 'state of alert' went up to a level I don't remember since the IRA (mostly) ceased operation. But I didn't actually realise how serious it was until I got home and put on the TV. I don't cry easily, but I have cried.
How do I feel? I -- don't know what to say. I feel worse than I did when the IRA bombed Canary Wharf, and at the time they carried out that attack I lived within a mile of it and heard the bomb go off. That was a realistic threat, I spent time at Canary Wharf, and it could have killed me rather than the poor man who did die -- this is thousands of miles away. One might expect it to feel more distant, but it doesn't.
I am worried, rather, by how fast they are to point the finger of blame at Osama bin Laden. Part of me wants him to be to blame so that I can blame religion for the whole sorry, stupid, tragic mess-it's religion that's at the bottom of bin Laden's problems with the US, I think. Part of me realises that America has a number of enemies, and it could be any of them. Well, any of them with large terrorist organisations capable of stealing planes and forcing the pilots to crash into a building-and how they did that we may never find out. It may be years before the truth of this all comes out, if it ever does.
I am thinking of all my friends in the States, I hope they're all safe but am refraining from pestering them to tell me. Either they're OK, in which case they're probably going to think I'm a bit of a loon (particularly those who don't live in New York or Washington) or they're not, in which case there's nothing I can do from the UK. I am particularly worried about a colleague's boyfriend; John was sent by his employer to New York, but though Peter has told me where he works and whom for, I can't remember. The only thing I can do for John is hope he's okay, and find out tomorrow if Peter's heard from him.
It's in situations like this that you miss religion. I mean that quite honestly. The religious can pray and believe it makes a difference. We who have none know that it doesn't make a difference, but don't have the luxury of that false comfort, and though the comfort is false, it's nonetheless there.
I can only echo the words of our own Prime Minister -- though I don't much care for him -- this is an attack not just on America, but on all of the free world.
My love to you and yours, I am thinking of you,
A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.
-- Oscar Wilde
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