In one of my favorite moments in one of my favorite books, a star-crossed couple shares a passionate evening together as rain and bombs fall in Tel Aviv. I always loved the juxtaposition between the rain falling, the bombs dropping, and this couple that was absolutely made for each other consummating years of on again, off again romance in an Israeli hotel room.
Last Friday night, I had the strange experience of kissing and hugging a lover as images of the World Trade Center melting down into rubble played and replayed in my head, and it made me realize that this story image I'd had wasn't so romantic as it was a creepy reminder of human tragedy: even in moments of pleasure and ecstasy, you can't escape the sorrow or the horror.
As Americans, we have been as blissfully removed from the horror and tragedy of violence as I was from that scene in my book. I don't think anyone of us feels that way after September 11, 2001. On that day the earthquakes in Bangladesh, the suicide bomber in a Berlin disco, the five year old Palestinian boy caught in the crossfire became as real to me as my cousin Lizzie emailing me a short message from Brooklyn last Tuesday: "I'm okay."
If there are good things that can come out of this tragedy (and I sincerely believe that there are), one is a collective realization that violence is not something that kills the bad guys or raises your score or looks superbadass when Lara Croft uses it: violence is a real thing that hurts real people and damages lives.
I guess this is why Hollywood is pulling "Collateral Damage" (the Arnold Schwarzenegger thriller about a man avenging the deaths of his family, killed when terrorists bomb a high-rise) from its fall movie schedule (boy, if Arnold's career weren't over before, it sure is now, huh?). This is why a mini-series about a biological weapons attack on New York City, and a show with references to terrorists and Osama Bin Laden have been pulled from American television. This is why American radio stations have advised against playing songs like "Killing in the Name Of".
We're in no mood for violence. Unless it brings us our revenge, it seems.
Here in America, we're awash in red white and blue and flags flying from currency exchanges, taxicabs, suburban homes and government offices. As if they were Christmas carols, "The Star Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America" can be heard on every radio and at every corner. And our president talks of "War," of a "Crusade." "This will not stand," he cries, employing the same choice of words his father did to prepare us for the Gulf War. "Bin Laden is wanted, Dead or Alive!" The U.S. - and the world, it is presumed - will have its revenge against the terrorists.
I wonder, does he stop to consider that those men who flew the planes into the twin towers and into the Pentagon felt that they too were exacting revenge?
Do you remember the movie "Wargames"? I saw it when I was about 10 years old, and it scared the crap out of me. It's still one of my favorites, and I was watching it the Saturday afternoon before our world changed. One thing I learned from it was that war is a lot like Tic-Tac-Toe. Every game ends up being a tie, and then you have to play a new game, which ends up as a tie, so you have to play a new game, and.. well, you get the picture.
I just keep thinking that we've had the Crusades, and we've had Jihad, and now we will have a new Crusade, and when will these men realize that they're simply playing a bigger, bloodier version of Tic-Tac-Toe? How many people and things and lives will have to die for this ridiculous concept of revenge?
Me, I'm going to do my part as a soldier, in the most hippydippy sense of the world. I intend to sing love songs on the street. I will hug as many people as possible (just like Amaachi!). I will shout across the world to Bin Laden, "I LOVE YOU, MAN!" I'll hold hands and make out and light candles. And I will stand by my fervent belief that war is an obselete concept.
I hope you will, too.
Discuss this article: Underground: Special Reports