Last Friday, on the 14th anniversary of September 11th, and after we had published that day, one our alumni advisors sent us a copy of TGA’s first editorial following 9/11. We post it now for those interested in the campus scene during those fateful September days when the world was changing far quicker than students at the time imagined it would.
Several of our past editors and writers were in the military when 9/11 occurred, and more have joined since, and most if not all of these men and women would later deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan. When originally published this editorial was dedicated to them, and all of Georgetown’s sons and daughters in uniform. In republishing it, we wish to renew that dedication again, and this time extend it to all those in the Georgetown family who, at one time or another, and whether in uniform or not, have taken on the burden of public service and deployed overseas to conflict zones in the hopes of making the world a safer and better place.
“Resolve, Resolve, Resolve”
We are told there was a time when folks spoke of “the Georgetown family.” The Georgetown family was varied by age, location, and experiences, but it knew no ideology, religion, or ethnicity. Similar memories and gratitude sustained it, as did its shared second class citizenship as Catholics and other newcomers of all faiths. True, Georgetown’s sons and daughters became more appreciative of the family when they left home, but they were aware of it while here with each kind smile, heated argument, and friendly gesture.
The family required being more than vanilla tolerant, but rather it had appreciation for extremely varied views on issues that divide us, and joy for the individuated lives that surround us. As with real families, the Georgetown family understood that our differences are far outweighed by our ties, and then kidded each other about the differences. Perhaps now we have reason to stop talking about the finite “Georgetown community” and start speaking again of the boundless “Georgetown family.”
Georgetown’s family grieves. Our prayers are with all that lost family and friends and have truest reasons for tears. Despair is a sin but we can fend it off by realizing that we have hundreds of reasons for joy. On the fateful Tuesday, Student Corp alumnus Casey Knoll, with a 95th floor office at Cantor Fitzgerald, woke and decided he would take a rare day off. Law alumnus John Mancini decided to take a later train. There are thousands who were spared. Thousands of prayers answered by a God who knows each of us by name.
These are hard days. The truth is that most of us remain sheltered from the reality to come. Some even thought it was a good idea to party as usual on the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance. The fortunate among us have lingered perhaps too long on sharing grief. As history unfolds there will be less to ponder and more to decide. This is a time for the so-called “male side” of our brain. Mars over Venus. We need resolve now, and because we believe in the God of Abraham we should not fear.
So far we have reacted well and been tolerant of each other’s reactions. We were disappointed to hear that GUSA leaders hemmed and hawed at placing American flags throughout campus, for yesterday’s reasons. An administrator at another college ordered flags be removed and is now having his dumb-ass handed to him nationally. We questioned whether the Res Life initiative to paint a large “Peace” sign might not have benefited from a smarter vocabulary. We do not want war. We do not want mere retribution or vengeance. We are not angry or hateful. But justice for the cruelty we have seen requires neither hate nor anger. Perhaps “Justice” should have been the word. Infinite Justice is even better.
Of course hand writing has begun in the shallows of the professorate and by some, not all, Jesuits. The latter we admire, but we pray they do not do us a disservice and bring disunity and rancor. This is not Vietnam; a domino war we never intended to win, or could win without inviting superpower escalation, and certainly not with pacifists at home. Afghan-American Mir Tamin Ansary has written: “When you think Taliban, think Nazis. When you think bin Laden, think Hitler. And when you think ‘the people of Afghanistan’ think ‘the Jews in the concentration camps.’” This is Czechoslovakia, our wake-up call.
We must life our voices in prayerful supplication for peace and to be rid of all anger and prejudice, but now we need our priests, rabbis and imams to help us understand evil, just war strictures, and be conduits to God, not Congress.
At the national Gallery, there is an unusually small El Greco showing Christ’s face smaller than a thumbnail yet reflecting, remarkably at once, reluctance, anguish, anger, and certainty. Christ is whipping astonished merchants he finds putting the sacred to profane uses. It is the most Father-like face of God the Son we know; a father aggrieved by the punishment he doles out. El Greco captures that essential moment in the temple when Christ knows He is causing His later arrest, crucifixion, and our eternal salvation.
No doubt socialists of the 60’s wannabes among us believe that somehow America or capitalism deserves blame for the attack on our two cities. We should be as republished by such people as we are by those who suggest that the Jews invited their holocaust. After childishness from Seattle to Genoa, we will now see how vital capitalism is as the attack on its institutions ripples across world economies to cause more poverty and strife than we can imagine.
If we deserve guilt it should be because we have not acted sooner where evil reigns. Our fight is not with the people of any country; it is with the thugs that enslave them from Sudan to Afghanistan. Make no mistake; we saw clearly the face of Evil as our grandfathers did. Evil is the absence of Good. We were reminded that Satan exits and is most clever when he causes us to forget him. But in the bravery and generosity of our people we see that the face of God rises higher. Now our task is to live better lives. Our national imperative is to secure for the world the freedom that God gifted us. For man is nothing if he is not the steward of creation, and those who destroy innocent life and freedom are God’s contemners.
Let us now better under the Battle Hymn: “I have read a fiery Gospel writ in burnish’d rows of steel, ‘As ye deal with my contemners, So with you my grace shall deal;’ Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heal, Since God is marching on.”
Originally published in the September 2001 edition.