I heard on the radio that an airplane had just hit the World Trade Center, a bi-plane according to one witness. Curious, I turned on the TV and discovered that it had not been a bi-plane, but a massive jetliner. I thought to myself, “This is a major disaster.” And I thought it couldn’t get much worse than that.
But then the second jet hit the other tower.
This is horrible, I thought. This is an intentional act of terrorism. And I thought it couldn’t get worse.
But then the Pentagon was hit, and then another jet crashed in Pennsylvania. My God, I thought, it couldn’t get worse.
But then I learned those jets were full of people. Mothers and daughters and sons and fathers. And I thought it couldn’t ever get worse than that.
But then one tower of the World Trade Center collapsed. It just fell in on itself, and in a few seconds it was gone. And I thought it couldn’t get worse.
But then the other tower collapsed as well. Only a cloud of smoke and dust remained where two of the most important buildings in the world had stood. And I thought it couldn’t get worse.
But then they began to estimate how many people had been in those towers. And I thought, surely, it couldn’t possibly get any worse.
But then an old man in Huntington, NY, tried to run over a Pakistani woman in the parking lot of a shopping mall and followed her into a store and threatened to kill her for “destroying my country.” And a man in a ski mask in Gary, IN fired an assault rifle at the gas station where Hassan Awdah, a U.S. citizen born in Yemen, was working. And 19-year-old Colin Zaremba said, “I’m proud to be American and I hate Arabs and I always have,” as he marched with a crowd of 300 to a mosque in the suburbs of Chicago. And in Australia, a school bus carrying Muslim children was stoned, and vandals tried to set fire to a Lebanese church.
And I thought it couldn’t get any worse.
But then people began to talk of retaliation, about punishment, about a possible ground war, about the “nuclear option.” They started talking about how the American people have to be prepared for many “difficult” things, such as heavy casualties among our American troops.
I thought it couldn’t get any worse. I was wrong. It can always get worse. And it most certainly will get worse, if this act of violence and terror makes us forget the values of love and reason.
Consider this my personal plea to you, to everyone:
Don’t make it worse than it already is.