September 11, 2001, was a day that will live forever in our memories. On that day, as is painfully common knowledge, terrorism visited cruel physical destruction on New York City, Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania farmland. Thousands of innocent lives were turned to innocent deaths. Grievous injuries afflicted thousands of others. And, those of us who continue in good physical health will probably never be the same again.
We have learned that we are no longer invulnerable to grievous attack. In spite of the billions of dollars spent on security measures to keep us safe, we can be reached and terribly hurt. On Sept. 11, we died to our own innocence.
Wonderfully, out of the horror of that Tuesday has arisen an abundance of good. We have put aside petty differences and become as one.
There is the warmth of courage and the determination to pitch in. Compassion and generosity abound. We send money, give blood and comfort each other, seeking to bind up wounds of body, mind and spirit.
Our country's leadership is revitalized. Our president has appeared up to the task of setting a course for our proper reaction to this outrage.
Our Congress has been stirred to unprecedented unity, even joining in one voice to sing "God Bless America." They have thrown aside political labels and stood behind the president and our country. Citizens feel proud and outraged that anyone would attack us. American flags fly everywhere to declare our pride and determination.
In Canada and overseas, memorial tributes to us have warmed our hearts. The Queen of England instructed the Royal Guard to play our National Anthem. Moments of silence have honored our loss around the world.
On a darker note, those who have reacted viscerally, without thought, have begun attacks on minority people among us. Although the major perpetrator of this terrorism may prove to be of the Moslem faith, he, by his actions, violates every tenet of that faith.
The followers of Islam (which means "peace") are just as horrified as the rest of us. Tariq Kuraishy, a trustee for the Northern Nevada Muslim Center, stated: "Anyone with education and awareness would know that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful people who abhor violence. Even if Muslim extremists are involved in the attacks, they no more represent the followers of Islam than Timothy McVeigh represented all Christians. We join with all Americans in grief and anger against these cowardly acts."
Mayor Jeff Griffin spoke in front of Reno City Hall, reminding us that retaliation against any minority person among us is unacceptable. "We are a nation of immigrants, and we celebrate diversity. These were the acts of madmen, not a religious group or an ethnic minority. We suffered a terrible tragedy caused by madmen, no one else."
As our grief turns to anger, we are easily lured to a desire for revenge.
However, our better selves know that revenge can only bring an unending cycle of violence in which we and our enemies become entrapped together.
Therefore, we must urge those who are "taking action" in response to this outrage to seek just punishment only, and not to perpetuate the violence that would engulf us all.
Susan Paslov is one of the Nevada Appeal's regular 'Fresh Ideas' contributors.