Clicking on banner ads keeps JWR alive
Jewish World Review Sept. 11, 2003 / 14 Elul 5763

Bill Tammeus

Bill Tammeus
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

The changes were not what the terrorists had in mind | A few weeks ago my wife and I were on Cape Cod spending a few days with my late nephew's widow, Haven, and her two little boys, Jackson, 3, and Parker, 1.

"Do you see Karleton in the boys?" Haven asked.

I didn't say this to her quite so directly, but in many ways I see Karleton everywhere - and have since his plane from Boston to Los Angeles, American Airlines Flight 11, slammed into the World Trade Center two years ago.

I see him in certain facial expressions of his sons, one of whom he never got to meet. I see him in the way his first cousins, my daughters, smile and laugh. I see him alarmed and panicked in his airline seat (20-J) each time I board a plane or hear one passing overhead.

I see his handsome, joyful face in the faces of his parents - my sister and her husband - and in my nieces, Karleton's two sisters. And I see his passion for life in Haven's remarkable determination to honor him by living life fully in spite of her unspeakable loss.

Donate to JWR

This sort of experience is not mine alone. Since the Sept. 11 hijackers, motivated by the evil of distorted religion, murdered more than 3,000 people, families all over the country also are learning to live without people they cherished, even as they remember them every day. And because the war on terrorism moved into Afghanistan and then Iraq, many other innocent families have suffered horrific losses that now are shaping how they live, too.

Some people reacted to Sept. 11 by promising to change their lives so they could concentrate on what is really important instead of what only pretends to satisfy. And a few people have actually done that.

In recent days, for instance, the news wires have carried stories of a New York fashion designer who chucked it all to lead a volunteer organization and of a banker who quit a boring job to start her own company in honor of her brother and fiance, both of whom died on Sept. 11.

But there were many more promises of change than there were actual changes. Many of us merely did what the Rev. Robert Lee Hill of Kansas City, Mo., described doing in his poem, "Will and Testament: September 12, 2001," published in his new book, "Hard to Tell." Hill listed two pages of things he promised to do, from making the bed to making an appointment with his dermatologist, from working with his hands in his yard to ringing a bell.

We make lists. Then we lose them. We make promises. Then we forget them. Our intentions are honorable, our actions negligible.

And yet there was something so profound about Sept. 11, something so momentous that it has shaped all of us in permanent ways.

For the most part, however, the changes were not what the terrorists had in mind. They imagined us renouncing our values and adopting theirs. They could almost taste the ashes of remorse in our mouths as - stunned by the destruction they visited on symbols of our rotted culture - we repented of the freedom we suddenly realized has led us to wanton depravity.

But that wasn't what happened at all. Rather, we have come to understand in our marrow how fragile life is and how much is at risk every day. We know now that even shoes can be lethal weapons. We know box-cutters can kill, plain envelopes can contain deadly toxins, bad ideas can lead impressionable young people to throw away their lives as suicide bombers for causes that, whatever their merits, they barely understand.

We also know that even as Americans struggled to recover from the blow Sept. 11 inflicted on the economy, they became the victims of rapacious corporate executives who looted their companies, defrauding stockholders, employees and customers.

So because of Sept. 11, we see some things more clearly. We see evil for what it is. We see our frailties, vulnerabilities and waywardness with greater clarity. And most of all we know more certainly that love is worth the risk of losing the ones we love. We understand, thus, what 19th-century English writer Samuel Butler meant when he urged us to love, even though "all reason is against it," because, he said, "all healthy instinct (is) for it."

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Bill Tammeus' latest book is "A Gift of Meaning." To order it, please click on title. To comment on his column, please click here.

08/14/03: Balancing fear and recklessness
08/07/03: Flatter-y will get you, uh, to Kansas
07/11/03: A desert saturated with life
07/03/03: America, and its ideals, still enchant
06/18/03: Through a looking glass darkly
06/10/03: Learn how to anticipate while remembering to savor today
05/23/03: Still lost for words at Ground Zero
05/08/03: Mustering robust   — if apathetic   — cheers
04/16/03: Worries of Iraq, illiteracy and the Cubs --- frazzled lives sabotage us
04/09/03: The genome triumph: Though it's laudable, DNA project won't tell life's secrets
03/25/03: In a wounded world, celebrate life's hope
03/20/03: Peace lover ponders the need for war
03/13/03: Science asks us to imagine a world in 11 dimensions
02/27/03: War has long come naturally to humankind
02/22/03: Trying to decipher the vexing French
02/11/03: A worthy crusade for individual worth
01/30/03: Indelible ache of Sept. 11
01/24/03: An issue of great gravity moves forward
01/17/03: Peculiar about being eccentric
01/10/03: Gambling infects with false hope
12/31/02: Quotable and notable in 2002
12/24/02: The faltering war on terrorism
12/11/02: Sky's the limit --- sort of
11/05/02: Thoughtful about uploading
10/29/02: We naively ignore the inevitability of death
10/24/02: Patriotism exceeds nationalism
09/18/02: Misuse of religion is timeless
08/21/02: Where church and state are one How long can Saudi Arabia's puritanical version of Islam survive?
08/13/02: LETTER FROM CAIRO: Meet the Egyptian writer who provided foundation for radical form of Islam
08/08/02: Letter from Riyadh: Moderate Muslims must reassert control over Islam
07/31/02: Journey of discovery starts at Ground Zero
06/07/02: Life rebukes death's power
05/31/02: Reasonable doubts about executions
05/10/02: Business savvy for graduates
05/02/02: Exporting our exclusivity
04/25/02: Life's stories carry messages about values
04/19/02: Our life force's search for fellow life forces
03/27/02: Can corporations behave ethically?
03/19/02: Space Family Robinsons
02/21/02: Lock, stocks and bonds
02/14/02: In space, the dark matters
02/07/02: Train doctors to have caring hands and hearts
01/31/02: A different feel to my life and to my country?
01/24/02: How green is my universe?
01/17/02: The end is near, eventually
01/08/02: Important lessons arrive out of the past
12/19/01: Lost in the cloning debate
12/10/01: It's all in the name: Unraveling the mystery of Osama's whereabouts
11/19/01: Flying with damaged trust
11/02/01: Recent, recognized research is a hard nut to crack
10/31/01: Many paradoxes in life
10/25/01: Newly found planets show the cosmos is still strange
10/19/01: Just getting caught up
10/17/01: It was a time for tea and sympathy
10/08/01: What makes an authentic patriot?
10/04/01: It's OK to twist and shout
09/17/01: One precious life among many
09/13/01: Remember who we are
09/11/01: Sometimes all children need is shelter from the storm
09/05/01: Couldn't run or throw, but a hero just the same
08/28/01: Lesson for the scientific faithful: Some theories come with strings attached
08/27/01: When waste in space is a waste of space
08/21/01: In complex world, we lack tools to carve out understanding
08/09/01: Visited while asleep by gang of magical mischief makers
08/03/01: Recognizing the limits of one's capacity
07/27/01: We are more than the sum of our work days
07/12/01: Some stars, like some people, never shine
07/11/01: Our deeply embedded need for order
07/03/01: Not-so-famous tour explores not-so-rich neighborhoods
06/28/01: Driven to tell the truth about golf and government
06/25/01: When poetry becomes destructive
06/21/01: We interrupt this broadcast to bring you a word from deep space
06/14/01: Theory of revolution explains why some things get lost
06/11/01: Shamanic gewgaws
06/06/01: Charity begins at homes with lemonade stands
05/30/01: When are wars worth dying in?
05/23/01: Cruising along that bumpy highway
05/09/01: If you're in the write mood, wish the U.S. happy birthday
05/07/01: Killing McVeigh will wound us all
05/01/01: Dubya reinforcing negative GOP stereotypes?


Reprinted by permission, The Kansas City Star, Copyright 2002. All rights reserved