While watching the television reports of the September 11th attacks on our nation, I noticed that an old country-western song has become popular again. It was 18 years ago when “God Bless the U.S.A.” was first sung by Lee Greenwood. It was written in dedication to America’s veterans. It became country music’s Song of the Year in 1984 and enjoyed popularity during the Persian Gulf War.

Sales of this patriotic song then dropped in the years that followed. For example, in 1992, Greenwood’s album American Patriot sold only 235 copies. But the American response to the terrorist attacks placed Greenwood’s song in demand again. In early October, 2001, American Patriot sold 59,000 copies. Greenwood has also been making guest appearances at gatherings such as the interfaith service at Yankee Stadium on September 23rd.

What does the resurgence of an old county-western song have to do with the helping professions? Success in any kind of counselling is difficult to measure. Treatment programs are often accused of having a revolving door policy which patients use and abuse. Many alcoholics and drug addicts are admitted to different types of treatment before achieving significant stability in their lives. Relapse is common and serves to blur the concept of treatment success. But, like Greenwood’s old song, the seeds of recovery that are planted may flower for a while, become dormant, and then flower again.

Contrary to the revolving door theory, therapists will probably never see most of their patients again after the cases have been closed. Well, almost never.

Over the years of my career, I have encountered here and there a former patient. Once, a young man followed me in the supermarket as I did my weekly food shopping. He approached me, curiously asking if I still worked over at the clinic. He politely reminded me of his name. I had recognized him but my mind went blank on his name. (The years go by so quickly.) He proudly told me that he was still sober, still going to A.A., and thanked me for the help I had given him.

Success! Not the kind of success that will make millions of dollars, or be praised or even understood by society. This kind of success comes from planting those seeds of mental health in a trusting relationship between the therapist and the patient. Those seeds may flower years later without our ever knowing it unless a benevolent wind sends their fragrance to us.

Encounters like this, and the occasional vacation postcard or Christmas card, warm the heart and supplement the mediocre income which most of us make. I imagine that Greenwood must have a similar good feeling about his contribution to country music and to our nation. He wrote a song about gratitude, he shared his talent, and he was there when we needed him again.

We have all touched others’ lives with affirmation and hope. We can feel proud of ourselves every day that we go to work and say the right words to build up the lives of our patients. Our expertise is needed, though devalued by some segments of our society. Now, if only we were paid as much as a country-western singer. (Written 10/01/01)

Bibliography Notes:

1.) “Country singer’s ‘U.S.A.’ rides high on patriotic wave,” by Sean L. McCarthy, in the Arizona Republic newspaper.


Which would you rather take your chances on: (A) getting anthrax through your mail, or (B) getting hit by a drunken on America’s highways. Everyone has probably read the statistics by now, so I will only briefly comment on that. According to one of the charts I have seen, your current chances of getting infected with the anthrax bacteria are 1 in 500 million. Your chances of getting killed in a car accident are 1 in 7000. And your chances of dying from anything this year are 1 in 130.

One person died from inhaled anthrax on October 5, 2001. The terror and the sadness of this are not to be diminished. The potential for more anthrax-related deaths is not to be underestimated.

Why does the public seem to perceive anthrax as more deadly than drunken driving? Why does terrorism seem like more of a threat to the American way of life than alcoholism, drug addiction, domestic violence, and child abuse? If the social and psychological ills of society were taken as seriously as anthrax, we would be united in humanitarian and spiritual values as well as in patriotism.

Anthrax infection is so far rare, but psychogenic illness among the populace is reported to be vast. The anxiety level is high. People become hysterical over the appearance of any white powdery substance. People want antibiotics. Nobody wants to take that 1 in 500 million chance of dying from anthrax.

People believe that the anthrax incidents are terrorist acts. People know that terrorism is not only deadly, not only a threat to the American way of life, but also a threat to the sovereignty of our nation. Perhaps people cannot express this rationally, but it seems obvious that they feel it deeply. If any terrorist organization overpowered America, the fruits of our freedom and prosperity would cease to exist. Our history would be erased. We would live under the political and social oppression of foreign invaders.

Alcoholism, drug addiction, domestic violence, and child abuse do not threaten national sovereignty. These are family and community problems. The solutions to these problems are often obstructed by denial and secrecy. Few people seek help. Those families who have not directly experienced these problems often stigmatize those who have. Friends and neighbors often do not want to become involved. The generations go on, however imperfect or dysfunctional, and some of these individuals will become achievers who contribute to the American way of life we want to preserve.

People seem to fear extinction when it is the intention of rather than the by-product of human behavior. Anxious people need a lot of emotional reassurance and practical guidance. We can all safeguard our existence by bringing certain things under our control. We can drive with courtesy, help a neighbor, face unpleasant realities with courage and resolve, and keep those American flags waving long after the war is won. (Written 10/15/01)

Bibliography Notes:

<<>> Articles in the Arizona Republic newspaper:
1.) “A-word is sure soaking up a lot of ink and airtime,” by David Leibowitz, 10/21/01;
2.) “Anthrax anxiety triggering bouts of mass hysteria,” 10/27/01.

Let me make a bold statement: I am not a sports fan. I have several objections to professional sports. Ideally, American athletes have served as heroes and role models for the male population. Today some are celebrities making huge salaries which far exceed their contribution to society. Some athletes seem to make a lot of playing errors, and some fans seem either to make excuses for their idols or to find self-satisfaction as armchair critics. No one demands their money back for a game poorly played. What bothers me most about professional sports is the antisocial and attention-seeking behaviors displayed by some athletes.

I never dreamed that I would be writing an essay about sports. That shows how much September 11th has changed my outlook on life. This year’s World Series has brought together two teams that represent two facets of American enterprise. The New York Yankees come from an established background of revered baseball tradition. The Arizona Diamondbacks are a young startup club trying to find a place among the winners. Their coming together in competition created a tense drama for fans and for a nation needing stabilization. Fans cheered for their favorite team, but for the nation it was a win-win situation.

Our political leaders advise us to return to normalcy. The fact that this Series went on as scheduled and without any apparent terrorist attack is a tribute to America’s democratic tenacity and love of freedom. I’m glad those sports fans braved the potential risks and attended the games. I’m glad those athletes still had the heart and courage to play. I’m glad that I’m still free to express my dislike of today’s professional sports.

Sports, as a concept, has lost much of its meaning. For this reason, some people have lately taken notice of women’s basketball. Whether at the college or professional level, these women athletes play with a true sense of sportsmanship, fair play, personal honor, and a love of the game itself. They have gained the respect of both female and male fans, and provide a new kind of role-modeling for young girls. These women have been able to provide leadership without the self-importance that permeates men’s sports.

This year’s World Series seemed to restore a similar quality of sportsmanship to baseball. Everyone seemed to agree that Game Seven needed a hero. There were a few men on both teams who were able to meet the challenge. Men who, not unlike the firefighters and police officers in New York City, gave it all they had. How can anyone really claim that one team was better than the other under such close circumstances? One team won, but both played with moments of excellence.

This is really what sports is about: to play with honor, win or lose. Yes, it is a great feeling to win, to be on top of the world, to go down in history. I would rather win than lose. But as we are taught as children, it is how you play that really matters. Each team member of the Diamondbacks and the Yankees will have to live with how he played. There are life’s lessons to be learned on the playing field.

In our nation’s return to normalcy, I hope we return to an earlier value system which included true heroes. Sometimes we need to look up to heroes as much as we need equality and the pursuit of happiness. (Written 11/05/01)

[NOTE: In paragraph 5, I wrote, “Men who, not unlike the firefighters and police officers in New York City, gave it all they had.” Upon retrospective review, I realize this sentence could have been written more clearly. At the time, only a couple months after the 9/11 attack, there was concern that the World Series might be used as an opportunity for another terrorist attack. My intention was to validate the courage and commitment of the American people to continue living a normal life and not to feel intimidated or crippled by terrorism. I certainly do not place baseball players (although, ultimately, they were at some risk of attack and loss of life) in the same category of hero as police officers and firefighters who daily risk their lives for our safety.] (Written 05/17/10)

First lady Laura Bush has been appearing on television, trying to calm and reassure Americans, especially children, that we are safe in our homes. She has expanded and fulfilled her role as first lady by including this new and unexpected duty. She has been affectionately nicknamed comforter in chief. While her husband manages the nation’s wartime strategies, Laura Bush complements his leadership with tenderness.

Laura Bush is a 55-year-old former second-grade school teacher and librarian. She is traditional in her marriage and in her career choices, and seems quite at ease with this. She does not seem to feel compelled to prove herself to anyone or to defend her lifestyle preferences.

Some women just seem to have a maternal component to their personality. Why do some women exhibit this behavior and some do not? Perhaps it is their disposition, or a learned behavior, or a coping style. I have known maternal types who are quite young, married as well as single, with or without children. I have even come across some men who have an unusual maternal way about them. People have different reactions to the maternal types. Some like them, and some do not. Some people feel nurtured and comforted by maternal types, whereas others feel suffocated and infantilized.

I like Laura Bush’s approach and I like her message. In essence, it is the same material with which many of us in the helping professions are confronted daily: helping the traumatized to cope with stress and to work through feelings.

In a recent speech (11/0 8/01) to the National Press Club, the first lady stated, “Rather than fearing death, we are embracing life — life that is now seen as more precious, more meaningful than it seemed before that tragic fall day.” Yes, life is short, but we will not embrace death or the fear of death. Life is meaningful. Meaning can be discovered, preserved, and shared.

The average American cannot take it for granted that they will live to achieve their goals or even to come home from work at night. Health and longevity are never guaranteed, but death on a “tragic fall day” is a new and dark possibility. This realization, however, has caused terrorism to backfire. We are now more aware of the preciousness of life and have a strong willingness to protect: whether through the military or nurture.

Some of us work with life and death matters every day, especially in the fields of alcoholism and drug addiction. Some of the A.A. slogans, such as a day at a time, are applicable to our nation’s need for healing and moving forward. People in recovery have always understood the immediacy and deep significance of that simple saying.

Sometimes in group therapy sessions with recovering alcoholics, I have stimulated discussion by asking the group: what if you only had six months to live, would you drink? Rarely will someone answer yes.* If someone does answer yes, that indicates to me that recovery has been unrewarding for them, that they are struggling, and that there is still a lot of therapeutic work to be done. Most will answer no. And that indicates to me that these patients have undergone tremendous growth. They have found reasons that would make even six months of sober life worthwhile. Like Laura Bush, they embrace life and do not fear death.

[*NOTE: I have always asked the above question to higher functioning groups where it can be expected that patients will answer in the affirmative. Their affirmative answers help to bring their own values into greater awareness. If a patient answers in the negative, it then becomes necessary to do some relapse prevention counselling and to assess for depression or other possible co-existing conditions. Asking the above question is NOT a typical therapeutic technique.] (Written 11/19/01)

Bibliography Notes:

<<>> This is not the original article which I used, but it contains similar biographical information:
1.) “Say hi to…Laura,” by Lois Romano/Washington Post, 01/06/01, in the Detroit News, [WWW document] URL http://www.detnews.com/2001/features/0101/27/c01-180005.htm
2.) Biographical material is also available from the White House website, [WWW document] URL http://www.whitehouse.gov/firstlady/flbio.html
3.) “Remarks by Laura Bush at the National Press Club,” [WWW document] URL http://www.whitehouse.gov/firstlady/news-speeches/speeches/fl20011108.html

Psychology, history, culture, politics: it all seems to get so muddled when Americans start asking why others hate us enough to kill us. It is a natural question for Americans to ask. We care. Most of us want to get along, whether with our neighbor or co-worker or other countries. We are the people who smile and say have a nice day. We give to charities. We adopt children. We rescue dogs and cats.

We are a civilized society. Despite our imperfections, despite strains of aberration and perverseness, we expect our government to protect the Constitutional rights of all citizens. If it does not, the courageous few will speak up until the wrongs have been righted for the benefit of all.

Many average citizens, however, seem to cope by using a defense mechanism of benign projection. We project onto others our own tendencies. We believe that, deep down, other people are just like us. That is, nice. It is difficult for us to fathom the chilling depths of antisocial behavior to which some individuals are capable. It seems incongruous to the national mind that those who do not have freedoms still have free will. Niceness can be just as one-dimensional as extremist fanaticism.

So, why do some people hate us? Let me answer a question with a question. Why do people single out America? World history is filled with atrocities. Other countries had slavery. There are segments of the Islamic world today where slavery still exists. Why the double standard? Other countries had military conquests. I loathe what the European explorers and early Americans did to the Native peoples. But the fact is, the white Europeans conquered this land. We all have to live together now and make the best of it. Nobody can turn back the clock and undo history at this point.

There is a problem of logic with the collective guilt theory. There are certain misled critics who state that, with the September 11th attacks, America is paying for its sins. These critics have a sort of grotesque version of what goes around comes around. This is illogical. The Americans who were killed were of various ethnic backgrounds, including some American Muslims. Also killed were visitors from a large number of foreign countries.

Besides, if we take a very cold look at this, does anyone really think that the 5,000 lives lost at the World Trade Center could possibly atone for the massacres committed against the indigenous peoples? Or for the emotional damage experienced by even one black female slave who was repeatedly raped by her white owner? How can the critics measure or judge the sins of history and conclude that America deserved what it got on September 11th? The people against whom these sins were committed are not here to speak for themselves. Where did the critics get the authority to speak for them?

Perhaps the critics are in denial. Perhaps it is easier to criticize America than to face the reality of terrorism. If we blame ourselves for what happened on September 11th, we could develop a national identity of co-dependency. Like the spouse of an alcoholic, or like a battered woman, or an abused child, we would accept others’ unacceptable behavior and then wonder what is wrong with us instead of what is wrong with them. We would always be asking: why do some people hate us enough to kill us?

Terrorists seem to regard themselves as victims and therefore justified. Antisocial personalities have that same tendency. Terrorists also use projection: you are a terrorist. Criminal behavior is extremely difficult to comprehend, especially for those not of that type. There are people who feel entitled to take what others have worked hard for. They do not care about you. They do not mind manipulating your history and your feelings to get what they want. Or, killing you. (Written 12/03/01)

The mosaic of New York City is brightly colored by many different houses of worship — the freedom of religion in action. There are two churches that are, or were, within close walking distance of the World Trade Center. One is an Episcopal church, St. Paul’s Chapel, located at Broadway and Fulton Streets. The other was the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, tucked away behind the Twin Towers on Cedar Street, and completely destroyed in the September 11th attack.

St. Paul’s chapel is a popular tourist attraction and easy to reach by bus. I have often walked by it on Saturdays, after browsing J&R Computer World and then heading over to the underground shopping mall at the World Trade Center.

St. Paul’s is on New York’s historical map. It was dedicated in 1766. It is the oldest church, and the oldest public building still in use in Manhattan. George Washington worshipped here. He attended St. Paul’s on his Inauguration Day in 1789. At that time, New York City was our nation’s capital. Despite its proximity to the World Trade Center, St. Paul’s remained intact after the September 11th attack. In fact, it was turned into a place of respite and medical care for the weary firefighters and other rescue workers.

St. Nicholas Church, by contrast, was a tiny church that opened only on Sundays for services and on Wednesdays for private prayer. Employees from the local businesses could get away from their hectic workday and light a candle in the church. St. Nicholas was founded in 1916. In the olden days, the church served Greek and Syrian immigrants. Their descendants, though no longer living nearby, continued to attend St. Nicholas because they felt a connection to Hellenic heritage there. Over the years, the faithful have steadfastly refused to sell the church even though real estate values in Manhattan greatly increased.

Along with the destruction of St. Nicholas Church, the relics of three saints have gone missing: St. Nicholas, St. Katherine, and St. Savvas. Reverend John Romas has notified rescue searchers, including workers at the Staten Island landfill, to look for the box containing these relics. It has yet to be found. The reverend’s wife, Lorraine Romas, believes that if the relics are not found, “maybe it’s because they wanted to stay there with everybody else.”

Mrs. Romas’ reaction contains a vivid sense of logic. Imagine the relics buried deep within the landfill (i.e., garbage dump), and the holiness they would lend to this very unpleasant area which itself has been the bane of Staten Islanders for many years. How fitting that the saints should humble themselves and reside at this macabre destination with those who perished so horribly. How comforting to the victims’ families. How victorious over terrorist intentions.

With or without the relics, there are plans to rebuild St. Nicholas Church. Fundraising has already begun. The city of Bari, Italy, where St. Nicholas is the patron saint, has donated money. The impact of and the responses to the September 11th attack have reached far beyond the New York mosaic. It has brought out the goodness in many people from many places. The recovery process has transformed into a resurrection of spirituality and a renewal of cultural ideals.

Both churches, St. Paul’s and St. Nicholas, are unique symbols of American democracy at its best. They are models of the freedom to worship while living in tolerance of those who are different. St. Patrick has long been the patron saint of New York City. I think it would be prudent and gracious if New York had a committee of patron saints, starting with: St. Patrick, St. Paul, St. Nicholas, St. Katherine, and St. Savvas. With the passing of the old world, that is, the world that existed before September 11th, perhaps the concept of patron saints should be taken more literally and personally. (Written 12/17/01)

Bibliography Notes:

1.) “A tiny church vows to rebuild. Destroyed when Trade Center fell, St. Nicholas starts over as a shrine,” by Martha T. Moore, November 2001, in USA Today newspaper.
2.) The history of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church can be found at [WWW document] URL http://www.stpauls-slc.org/id18.htm
3.) I also referred to the website of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, but their website seems no longer to be available.

Recently, I received some spam e-mail from the The Pharmacy Guide of Mexico. They were selling a “guide” to Mexican pharmacies for $29.95, with the sales logo: “Do you feel prepared? It’s up to you…” The website listed medications you could buy in Mexico, including antibiotics. I’m not one to panic over bioterrorism, but preparation is different from panic. No, I do not feel personally prepared. I trust that my government is taking steps to protect all citizens, and I believe that our leaders are sincere in wanting to protect us. At present, however, there is not enough Cipro to go around.

There are websites openly selling Cipro. At the Cyber Physicians website, they are selling 6 Cipro tablets for $120.00. That breaks down to $45.00 for the pills, $15.00 for shipping, and $60.00 for a “consultation fee.” The F.T.C. (Federal Trade Commission) reports that there are more than 200 websites selling bioterrorism protection items such as gas masks, test kits, and dietary supplements with the assertion that their products will detect, prevent or treat contamination. As of November 19th, forty e-mail warnings were issued by the F.T.C. telling these websites to remove such content immediately.

Foreign-made Cipro is illegal to import, whether you buy it over the internet or try to take it across the border. The F.D.A. (Food and Drug Administration) does not approve of foreign brands of Cipro. The F.D.A. has concerns that pills purchased over the internet could be counterfeit, contain the wrong dosage, or be contaminated and harmful. If you order over the internet, you may not receive any product at all. There is little or nothing the U.S. government can do to help you get your money back. There is also concern that the average citizen cannot be trusted to use Cipro only if needed and in the correct amounts.

Some Americans, who have no insurance or who are elderly and lack adequate coverage, frequent the Mexican border towns to buy essential medications. At the Mexican border, for example, American border officers will confiscate Cipro upon your return to the States. The Mexican type Cipro is then sent to a F.D.A. lab in Cincinnati for testing. I was unable to find out if any Mexican brands of Cipro had actually been tested and what, if any, ingredients are lacking, sub-standard, or incorrect. Americans who buy medication in Mexico are permitted to bring across a number of other products, however, including penicillin and other antibiotics.

Here is the recommended adult dosage for Cipro, according to the F.T.C., for post-exposure of inhaled anthrax. Adults should take 500 milligrams orally twice per day, as soon as possible after the exposure, for 60 days. Now, if you had purchased Cipro over the internet from Cyber Physicians, the recommended dosage would have cost you $750.00, not including shipping and the consultation fee. If you happen to live near the Mexican border, you could purchase a Mexican brand of 100 Cipro tablets for $12.99. That comes to about 3 cents per tablet. Since you need 120 tablets for one adult, you would have to purchase a second bottle, making your total $25.98. (It is easy to understand why so many Americans cross the border for medications.)

Or, you might not end up with any Cipro at all. The only approved manufacturer of Cipro in America is Bayer Pharmaceutical Division. At present, according to the H.H.S. (The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) there is enough Cipro “in combination with other antibiotics” to treat about 2 million people, (18.6 million doses, which Bayer donated to the H.H.S.). Bayer has agreed to manufacture up to 300 million more tablets. The H.H.S. has agreed to pay 95 cents per tablet for the first order of 100 million tablets (or 95 million dollars), 85 cents per tablet for the second order, and 75 cents per tablet for the third order.

As of January, 2002, there is supposed to be enough Cipro in America to treat 12 million people. The H.H.S. has stockpiles of Cipro which are maintained by the H.H.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The H.H.S. states that it has eight 50-ton packages of Cipro that can be delivered anywhere in America within 12 hours. They expect to increase this to 12 packages in the future.

Regarding cost, Bayer is offering a much better deal than Cyber Physicians. But, regarding cost, probably nothing beats the Mexican brands. Human life is priceless, but business is a reality. It is the availability and distribution realities that I feel most concerned about. Bayer and the government agencies advise not to take Cipro unless you are infected with the bacteria. So far, that makes sense. They advise a doctor’s examination due to possible allergic reactions and side-effects. They also do not want individual citizens creating their own stockpiles of Cipro. This is where I encounter questions.

What if my doctor does not diagnose me accurately? What if my doctor himself dies from inhaled anthrax? What if the local hospital cannot handle thousands of people infected with anthrax? What if the hospital is destroyed by a suicide bomber? What if there are some terrorist sympathizers among Bayer’s employees and they poison the Cipro? I will discuss my ideas in Part 2. (Written 01/07/02)

Bibliography Notes are at the end of Part 2

I really worry about our good neighbors south of the border. I feel concern for our friends and allies around the world. If their brands of Cipro are sub-standard, what will happen if they get infected with anthrax? Will Bayer supply them with Cipro made in America? How ghastly to think that in the event of a massive bioterrorist attack, only some American citizens will survive and the rest of the world will die.

Bayer is a large corporation. Bayer employs about 22,200 people. In 1999, Bayer had sales of $8.9 billion. Bayer Corporation, which is a part of Bayer Group, has its main office in Pittsburgh, PA. The Bayer Group is based in Leverkusen, Germany. Worldwide, Bayer has about 350 companies which employ 117,300 people. Japan is Bayer’s largest Asian market, then China, Singapore, and Thailand.

Now, Bayer formed its first company in Mexico in 1921. In Mexico, Bayer manufactures medicines as well as products such as plastic and rubber. On the Bayer website, the addresses and aerial photos of their Mexican offices and factories are provided. Although I can understand the pride Bayer must feel over its accomplishments, and although I appreciate their openness, I feel trepidation at the possibility of a terrorist accessing addresses and photos.

I do not know exactly where the Bayer Cipro is manufactured. If I were employed by Bayer in Mexico where perhaps Cipro was being made, and if my life or the lives of my loved ones were at stake, and if the Mexican brands of Cipro are inferior, I wonder if I would pocket some Bayer Cipro. Life and death issues such as this should not be decided by any corporation, government, doctor or hospital. Citizens should not in any way be pitted one against the other for survival. Survival should not come at the expense of conscience and humanitarian values. We are living under wartime circumstances. In this new era of terrorism, access to Cipro should be a basic human right.

Cipro should be marketed as an over-the-counter medication. It should be as plentiful as headache pain relievers and cough syrups. Moreover, Bayer should share its recipe for Cipro with all foreign drug companies. Bayer should do this freely as a wartime necessity and humanitarian contribution. Let the Mexican manufacturers improve their product if needed, and let Americans have choices. In return, Bayer will be remembered as a savior of mankind.

The more systems there are that manufacture Cipro, the less likely that the terrorists could destroy them all. The more Cipro is readily available, the less likely that citizens will panic or hoard. The more America works closely with neighbors, friends, and allies, the stronger we will be. It is not in America’s best interest to totally dominate the production of Cipro. Let the business corporate heads compete for economic domination in other areas, but not with this. We have already seen how a concentration of power within the Microsoft system makes it easy to spread computer viruses and cause irreparable damage. The same will hold true if the manufacture of Cipro is concentrated and not allocated among allied sectors.

Average citizens were heroic in rescuing and comforting one another after the 9/11 attack. We probably all viewed these heart-wrenching scenes on television. The government, therefore, needs to put more trust in us. Citizens need to be educated on anthrax infection and on the administration of Cipro. There is nothing wrong with wanting to have Cipro on hand just in case. I have ibuprofen on hand just in case of a headache. It is a sign of personal responsibility to be prepared, and it is a victory over psychological terror to feel prepared.

If you would like to do some more research on this topic yourself, here are some resources which I found helpful. I visited the websites of the following organizations: Bayer, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Cipro U.S.A., Food and Drug Administration, Federal Trade Commission, Infectious Diseases Society of America, and The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I used the December, 2001, issue of Wired magazine. I also telephoned two California border compliance officers. I sent an e-mail to the F.D.A. with specific questions, but they were able to respond only with a generic form e-mail due to an overload of e-mail on their system. There is a complete listing of sources below. (Written 01/21/02)

Bibliography Notes:

1.) “Bayer in Mexico,” by Mr. Georg Braunleder, from the Bayer website, [WWW document] URL http://www.bayer.com.mx/english/welcome.html
2.) “Bayer, HHS Complete Cipro Agreement: Americans Assured of Ample Supplies of Cipro To Combat War on Bioterrorism,” in News from Bayer Pharmaceutical Division, North America, from the Bayer Pharmaceutical Division website, [WWW document] URL http://www.bayerpharma-na.com/news/co0256.asp
3.) “Expertise with Responsibility,” from the Bayer Group website, [WWW document] URL http://www.bayer.com/en/unternehmen/standorte/index.html
4.) “Prescribing Information,” from the CiproUSA website, [WWW document] URL http://www.ciprousa.com/pi.asp
5.) “Using Antibiotics Appropriately To Combat Bioterrorism,” from the CiproUSA website, [WWW document] URL http://www.ciprousa.com/appropriate_ad.asp
6.) “FDA Approves Ciprofloxacin for Victims of Anthrax Inhalation,” from the CiproUSA website, [WWW document] URL http://www.ciprousa.com/anthrax_release.asp
7.) “You Can Count On Us,” from the CiproUSA website, [WWW document] URL http://www.ciprousa.com/count_ad.asp
8.) FDA Talk Paper: “Approval of Cipro® for Use After Exposure to Inhalational Anthrax,” from the Food and Drug Administration website, [WWW document] URL http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/ANSWERS/ANS01030.html
9.) FDA Talk Paper: “FDA Issues Cyber-Letters to Web Sites Selling Unapproved Foreign Ciprofloxacin,” from the Food and Drug Administration website, [WWW document] URL http://www.fad.gov/bbs/topics/ANSWERS/2001/ANS01115.html
10.) FTC Consumer Alert: “Offers to Treat Biological Threats: What You Need to Know,” from the Federal Trade Commission website, [WWW document] URL http://www.ftc.gov
11.) “FTC Cracks down on Marketers of Bogus Bioterrorism Defense Products,” from the Federal Trade Commission website, [WWW document] URL http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2001/11/webwarn.htm
12.) “HHS, Bayer Agree to Cipro Purchase,” from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website, [WWW document] URL http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/20011024.html
13.) For a paper on how citizens cooperate with each other in catastrophe: “Bioterrorism and the People: How to Vaccinate a City against Panic,” by Thomas A. Glass and Monica Schoch-Spana, copyrighted by the Infectious Diseases Society of America, accessed at [WWW document] URL http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/CID/journal/issues/v34n2/01…/011333.text.htm
<<>> Articles in Wired magazine, December 2001, The Condé Nast Publications, Inc.:
14.) “A Shock to the System,” by John Browning;
15.) “Divided We Stand,” by Oliver Morton;
16.) “Fighting the Network War,” by John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt.

Almost immediately after the September 11th attack, some New York City businesses were providing crisis debriefing for their employees. Some companies contracted with a mental health crisis firm known as C.M.I. (Crisis Management International Inc.). This firm is based in Atlanta, and is able to mobilize trained mental health counsellors nationwide in response to catastrophic situations. Each counsellor gets paid $640 to $800 per day. C.M.I. was hired by approximately 300 companies after the September 11th attack.

Single debriefing sessions are conducted with groups of 15 to 20 employees, and attendance is mandatory. Since debriefing is not therapy, there is no confidentiality as we usually know it, although C.M.I. states it is protective of their clients’ names. The purpose of debriefing is to validate feelings and normalize reactions, provide education about stress, point out symptoms that might require further counselling, enable employees to return to normal work as soon as possible, and prevent more severe mental health conditions from occurring.

The founder of C.M.I. is Bruce Blythe. In the December, 2001, issue of Fast Company magazine, he was quoted as saying, “We focus on the human side of crisis. We bring order out of chaos. We want to keep people out of psychiatrists’ offices and drug stores. That’s our mandate.”

There are three areas of concern which I would like to address in response to Blythe’s statement. (1) The benefits of psychotropic medication in psychotherapy treatment. (2) The inherent value of psychotherapy, including long-term treatment, and including supportive therapy and personal growth therapy. (3) The likely reality that the September 11th horror will result in severe and/or ongoing stress for many people, including for some who were not even present at the actual site.

(1) If the goal is to keep people off psychotropic medication, then the underlying message seems to be that it is in some way wrong to be on medication, that medication is a bad thing. It seems to be implied that the survivors who need medication are somehow inferior to those who are getting along without it. That would be judgmental. People have different levels of mental health. Some people are going to have a more difficult time processing the events of September 11th and functioning in a nation on high alert.

Anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication may be the path to alleviating symptoms and returning to work. For these people, the proper use of needed prescribed medication has to be looked upon as a good thing. People are not going to have hope for themselves, and will probably risk medication non-compliance, if mental health professionals have a poor attitude toward psychotropic medication.

(2) Therapy need not be regarded as something only for people who are traumatized. If the employees who participated in the debriefing sessions felt they benefitted from it, perhaps they could gain even more by continuing with a therapist of their choice. After the crisis situation and beyond emotional stabilization, there is still the necessity of day-to-day survival in a changed world and the quest for purpose and meaning. Especially for those who incurred the loss of family members, co-workers and friends, establishing renewed values and priorities could be facilitated by a good therapist.

(3) It would seem very likely that many people will require emotional and spiritual help as a consequence of September 11th. The terrorist attack was life-altering. Nationwide there are signs of patriotism, positive defiance, strengthened unity and identity as Americans. However, there is also tension, anticipation of the next attack, financial hardships, and a general human condition of grief. We will never forget. If some people need a helping hand, and if others can extend a helping hand, then together we will rebuild the self and the nation. (Written 02/04/02)

Bibliography Notes:

1.) “Crisis and Confidence at Ground Zero,” by Charles Fishman, in Fast Company magazine, #53, December 2001, G+J USA Publishing. See pp. 109-113.

During those first few days of shock after the attack on the World Trade Center, people were describing the attack as beyond comprehension. The human mind could not fathom the mass murder of so many innocent people. Everyone was asking why. Some people seemed to have a tendency toward self-blame, perhaps in an attempt to comprehend the incomprehensible. Other people renewed their patriotism, or even discovered for the first time feelings of patriotism. I am still trying to understand why, trying to grasp some explanation for it with my social worker’s mind.

What kinds of feelings prompt someone to kill the innocent? There was, for example, a mass-murder many years ago known as the Massacre of the Innocents. All the babies were killed. It happened just after Jesus Christ was born. King Herod feared that the baby known as the King of the Jews would take over his position as king. Herod sent out the wise men as spies to find out where Christ was born. Upon finding the Christ child, however, the wise men became believers and they did not return to Herod. Herod then went into a rage over this. Herod had all the children, under age two who resided in the Bethlehem area, killed.

Such killers seem to defy diagnosis. Are they mentally ill? Are they, as President Bush says, evil? Can they be both? Are mental illness and evil mutually exclusive? If they are mentally ill, then are they not to be held responsible for their actions? Is it possible to put these killers into some sort of category? If not, is it possible to find certain traits which are common among these killers?

Such killers seem as likely to focus on an individual as on whole populations of people. Back in December, 2001, there was an article in the Irish News about Sister Philomena Lyons, a 67-year-old nun from Ballybay. She was sexually assaulted and murdered on her way to Dublin for the holidays. She had been a teacher for 40 years, having spent 30 of those years in Ballybay. What kind of person would kill a senior citizen nun? And during holiday time? What does such a person feel?

Here are my rough impressions which are by no means scientific. This is just my own mind searching for a few pieces of the puzzle. Some people seem to react to stress, to perceived or real wrongs, with intense feelings of hatred and vengeance. These people have possibly experienced deep narcissistic wounding and are possibly very immature. They choose easy targets such as babies, enormously tall buildings, and old nuns. They do not retaliate against the ones whom they believe have wronged them, but choose a representative or symbolic person or population.

These killers would not fall into anything like the Battered Woman Syndrome. Battered women resort to killing their abusers because they believe it to be an act of self-defense. Perhaps this is why our leaders refer to terrorists as cowards. It would seem to take a lot of courage to fly an airplane into a building, a lot of cool nerve to have maneuvered oneself through the airport with murder in mind. But the target is innocent and easy. Such killers will possibly be found to be self-righteous, arrogant, angry, and desperate for narcissistic validation. I daresay, sadly but necessarily, that we will have opportunities to get to know and study such killers much closer. (Written 02/18/02)

Bibliography Notes:

1.) Bible story on the Massacre of the Innocents is from The Gospel According to Matthew, Chapter 2 (King James Version).
2.) “Murderer strangles nun in sex attack,” 12/17/01, Irish News Online, [WWW document] URL http://www.irishnews.com (This article is now available only for Irish News Online subscribers.)
<<>> If you are interested, there are also follow-up articles:
3.) “Man (19) accused of nun’s murder,” 12/20/01;
4.) “Bishop in tribute to murdered sister (68),” 12/20/01;
5.) “Murderer of elderly nun sentenced to life in jail,” 07/15/03;
6.) “Tribute to a gentle friend,” 07/15/03.
(All articles are available in the Irish News Online for subscribers.)

Hollywood was still making good westerns back in 1975. I like the old westerns and I have several in my personal video library. In my collection, however, the Indians are not portrayed as bad guys. Hollywood actually made a few quality western movies in those days which were sympathetic and more realistic regarding the plight of the early Native peoples.

One such movie was called I Will Fight No More Forever. It starred James Whitmore, Sam Elliott, and Ned Romero. It is about the Nez Perce Indians and their forced relocation to a reservation. The U.S. Army captures Chief Joseph. Recognizing the futility of ongoing resistance, Chief Joseph promises, “I will fight no more forever.”

The war against the terrorists will not be so easily won. America is fighting a brutal enemy that has financial backing. We will not hear the words, “I will fight no more forever.” Not from them. And not from us.

That is why I think social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and all credentialed counsellors should be called upon to help fight this war. It appears that part of terrorism’s financial backing comes from narcoterrorism: the growing and selling of plants used for addictive drugs. Narcoterrorism is also a mode of attack.

Some groups in Central America and South America, and until recently in Afghanistan, are involved in the genetic modification of opium. That is, they are experimenting with plants that would provide a different kind of high, would be more powerfully addictive, and would attract new addicts. So long as there is an American market for addictive drugs, we are engaged in a self-defeating and humiliating lifestyle at the grassroots level of society.

America has to become a nation of recovery in every way and for everyone. The real way to bankrupt the growing and selling of addictive drugs is to get all the drug addicts into effective treatment programs. There is a lot of money being spent for military defense, understandably. But the national defense budget should also include moneys dedicated to making Americans a drug-free people.

Drug treatment should be looked upon as a long-term process, perhaps for the lifetime of many addicts. This goes against the trend toward brief therapy and cost-effective treatment. This takes us back (the pendulum can only swing so far one way before it has to swing back the other way) to the Freudian days when treatment might go on for years and sessions would take place more than once per week. Treatment might again need to be accepted as labor intensive.

There are just some people who probably need lifelong supportive therapy. Twelve Step programs are not going be sufficient for everyone. Some addicts have dual diagnoses, some have histories of trauma, some have never been habilitated let alone rehabilitated. The undesirable alternative is to continue the American market for addictive drugs which are grown and sold by some of our nation’s enemies.

Homeland security should involve community social workers who would go out into the neighborhoods and streets in order to assist addicts and their families in finding help. Social workers and other professionals, whether they practice privately or in agencies, should develop and revamp their treatment expertise and programs to serve a long-term clientele.

Society needs to adopt a forever attitude. There is no other area of life where people are held to limits or restrictions such as exist in most treatment programs and insurance coverage. People are expected to go to church all their life. Nobody says go to church for 12 weeks and then you should be able to manage spiritually on your own. Church is forever. In America we value continued education. The concept of lifelong learning is esteemed. And every social worker knows that attending seminars and getting more certificates is expected. Education is forever.

Terrorism is forever. I expect to live out the rest of my life in a changed world. I would gladly fight terrorism in my capacity as a social worker, helping addicts to stay clean and causing the drug market to hit bottom. Recovering addicts would help America recover, just by staying clean and not purchasing any more drugs. Maybe someday Hollywood could make a movie out of it. (Written 03/04/02)

Bibliography Notes:

1.) “Narcoterrorism,” from the Terrorism: Questions & Answers website, [WWW document] URL http://cfrterrorism.org/terrorism/narcoterrorism.html

We are passing through the six-month anniversary of the September 11th attacks. Freedom has endured the destruction. In an attempt to fill the emotional void, what a strange comfort to find that the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center were not the only twin towers in the world. Although nothing can replace the citizens who perished so needlessly, or the Army Rangers and Marines who gave all, and although the World Trade Center will be rebuilt someday in an altered form, history and geography have another story to offer us. We need to look no farther than Italy.

The city of Bologna, Italy, has some things in common with New York City, including twin towers. Bologna was a successful city in the Middle Ages. Like New Yorkers and all Americans, they valued freedom and their motto was “Libertas.” The people of Bologna rebelled against imperialism in 1114, and Emperor Henry V had to grant them freedom in 1116. Bologna then became a center of business and intellectual life.

The University at Bologna provided citizens with a new road to success — education. The University provided an alternative to serving the church (through the priesthood and religious orders) or the aristocracy (through the military). The University also had several women professors. Bologna acquired the nickname, “La Dotta,” meaning “The Learned.” Dante was a student in Bologna at the end of the 13th century.

The wealthy families of Bologna began to compete with one another in the building of towers. The towers were used as status symbols as well as watchtower fortifications for defense. In 1294, with a population of about 50,000, there were almost 200 towers. Today, 20 towers have survived.

Two of these towers are located near each other, and at one time were connected by a bridge. The tallest tower is the Torre degli Asinelli. It was built in 1119. In 1399, the dome fell off. And in 1505, it was damaged by an earthquake. The tower is 322 feet high and weighs 8000 tons. The walls are 12 feet thick at the base, and 3 feet thick at the top. It has 498 wooden steps. Next, the Torre Garisenda is 158 feet tall and leans almost as much as the Tower of Pisa (before repairs). It is presently 9 feet out of alignment.

Many people have visited the towers of Bologna. Charles Dickens visited, and Lady Morgan (an Irish author). The University continues to attract students and the current enrollment is around 100,000. During the Communist era, however, Bologna was ruled by Communist Party leaders and acquired another nickname, “Bologna the Red.” Despite those unfortunate years, the city is now developing a tourist trade and the presence of the University keeps it vital.

As Americans, most of us had never experienced devastation on our homeland before September 11, 2001. Bologna survived physical and political hardships, and is regenerating itself into another season of growth. New Yorkers and all Americans will do the same. In my own vision of freedom and success, the Twin Towers will always stand proudly over the City’s busy streets and harbor. Beyond the shock and grief, even beyond the return to normalcy, there is a crucial challenge that we must grasp in order to procure “libertas” in this era of terrorism. Constant vigilance, bureaucratic efficiency, and reliance on a Higher Power can guide us safely to the one-year anniversary. (Written 03/18/02)

Bibliography Notes:

<<>> Articles in Italy Italy magazine, Year XVII-No.6, 1999, published by Italy Italy Corp., New York, N.Y. ISBN: 0393-3725.
1.) “The Occasion of a Lifetime,” editorial by Joseph LaPalombara. See p. 3;
2.) “Bologna: The Fat and the Learned,” by Derek Wilson. See pp. 17-29.

Pope John Paul II has been seeking forgiveness from groups which the Roman Catholic Church has harmed over the centuries. He has apologized to the Eastern Orthodox for the activities of the crusaders which led to the fall of Constantinople. He has apologized to the Jews for the wrongs inflicted upon them during the Holocaust. And, he has apologized to the victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by the priesthood.

Many people regard the pontiff as a saint and some expect he will be canonized upon his passing away. His expressions of contrition are a unique and surprising step toward peace relations among all Christians.

Lately, Billy Graham has apologized to the Jews for certain remarks he made back in 1972. Among all the religious leaders to achieve worldwide recognition, Pope John Paul II and Billy Graham, a Catholic and a Protestant, have maintained impeccable reputations. There has never been any scandal dug up on either one. Their apologies, I believe, reflect their genuine spirituality and humility. They want, by all ethical means, to heal the broken-hearted and save souls.

There is a difference, however, in the nature of their apologies. Billy Graham apologized for himself, for his own doings, whereas the Pope apologized for others’ doings and for the impact of history. The Pope apologized as a leader, as a representative of an organized religion, on behalf of those who committed atrocities in the name of God, and on behalf of the corrupt and depraved segments of his religion. Billy Graham acted as a man of honor and conscience. The Pope acted as a Christ-like figure, taking on the sins of others.

Can political leaders do the same? What if President Bush apologized to the Arab world, for example, for any unfairness inflicted upon them by the American government and American corporations which may have acted under the leadership of past presidents? Could this have prevented the World Trade Center attack? Would this bring all the current anti-American tendencies to a halt? Would we all live in post-apology peace? Is an apology even what the extremist faction wants?

Before making a sweeping apology, it might help to do some sort of Step Four. As taken from the The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, Step Four means to “Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” This is very personal. I can picture Billy Graham doing this as he pondered his comments of 1972. I can picture the Pope doing this as he lamented the abuses by his church. But I cannot imagine any president answering for the ills of any previous administration. Otherwise, why have elections? We may as well elect presidents for life. The whole idea of free elections is to make positive changes if we do not like the way things are going.

Using the Twelve Steps as a model, it gets more complicated as we move toward Step Eight and Step Nine. Step Eight reads: “Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.” Then, Step Nine reads: “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” There has been much harm done throughout history. It would take several lifetimes to make amends to everyone for every injustice done. We can condemn and disagree with policies of the past, but to undo is impossible and to provide compensation would be an enormous task (and unfair to a current generation that played no part in the injustice even though they may have indirectly reaped benefits from it).

This is not to say that victims should not go to court, or that governments have the right to break treaties, or that people in recovery should overlook Step Nine. Laws have to be enforced. Citizens need to be protected. People will grow as they accept responsibility for themselves and the impact of their actions on others.

This is only to suggest that rather than focusing on the damages of history, most people and nations would do well just to stop the hate of the present. Correcting the ills of our current society is enough to keep us all focused on doing good. If we all did good in our own time and generation, there would be no more need for collective apologies. Perhaps people would feel less intense about the sufferings of their ancestors if they felt more secure about their children’s opportunities for a bright future. A simpler, quicker solution to history’s toll is to become examples of peace for the next generation. (Written 04/01/02)

Bibliography Notes:

1.) “Pope apologizes for church’s history of sex abuse,” 11/23/01, in the Arizona Republic newspaper.
2.) The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Published by Alcoholics World Services Incorporated, March 1991, ISBN: 0916856011.

Perhaps the easiest way to access essays written by Abdal-Hakim Murad is to go to Masud Ahmed Khan’s Homepage on the internet. There are several essays at this website, written by Muslim thinkers. Non-Muslims might find that these works deserve prime importance in attempting to understand the Muslim perspective on religion, terrorism, politics, and secular society. Murad, for example, has written on Islam as well as on topics such as “Diana and Dionysus,” (an essay on the death of Princess Diana), and “A Muslim Perspective on the Trinity.” The essay that I wish to discuss is “Recapturing Islam From the Terrorists.”

Murad condemns the September 11th attacks. He states that terrorists are not Muslims, and that true Islam “has produced much of the world’s most sensitive art, architecture and literature, and has a rich life of ethics, missionary work, and spirituality.” Rather than killing innocent civilians, real Muslims prefer to “make friends of our neighbors.” Murad compares Islam to Christianity in this respect. When extremist groups such as the Branch Davidians claim to act in accordance with Holy Scripture, mainstream Christian churches are quick to distinguish themselves and defend true Christian beliefs, values, and lifestyle. Murad encourages Muslims to find their voice and do likewise on behalf of true Islam.

Murad also asks that bewildering question: Why do people hate Americans enough to kill them? His personal answer, however, seems to be found in corporate America’s monetary power and in American-Israeli foreign policy. Corporate America. Political America. Please take a look at the average American who is not geopolitical by nature.

A few years back I was fortunate enough to take a vacation to Egypt. This area is mostly Muslim, with a Coptic Orthodox minority. What I learned during this vacation is that the average Egyptian Muslim is very much like the average American Christian. They are trying to make a living, to survive, and to take care of their families. I found most Egyptians to be friendly and honest. The average Egyptian Muslim is not involved in terrorism any more than the average American Christian is involved in geopolitics.

If anyone hates Americans for geopolitical reasons, then they are really ignoring a greater reality: American art, literature, morality, and philanthropy which have been influenced in a positive way by Christian values and democratic ideals. The average American also needs to find a voice and claim back true Americana. It is because of our democratic foundation and equal opportunity that many others want to live in this country, including Muslims.

Murad continues, “The controls of two great vehicles, the State Department, and Islam, need to be reclaimed in the name of sanity and humanity. It is always hard to accept that good might come out of evil; but perhaps only a catastrophe on this scale, so desolating, and so seemingly hopeless, could provide the motive and space for such a reclamation.” Christians and Muslims have much in common which was not so apparent before September 11th. The commonality is the preservation of family, community, and culture in the face of hatred. Theological differences might have to be set aside as a luxury which we presently are not able to afford (for the purpose of uniting against terrorism).

United We Stand: hardworking Americans from all walks of life, also making friends of our neighbors. In the 1960’s there used to be a slogan: power to the people. It was this kind of grassroots empowerment that enabled the civil rights movement to succeed. Even in those days, however, there were extremists who would have interpreted that slogan to suit their anti-American tendencies. People do not need excuses to hate. They only need targets to take their hatred out on. It is up to us to recycle that grassroots energy and let the terrorists know they cannot destroy our highest values and ideals. (Written 04/15/02)

Bibliography Notes:

1.) “Recapturing Islam From the Terrorists,” by Abdal-Hakim Murad, from the Masud Ahmed Khan’s Homepage website, [WWW document] URL

Another Islamic thinker and scholarly writer whose works are well worth studying is S.M. Atif Imtiaz. I accessed his essay, “The Events of September 11: Thoughts and Emotions,” from Masud Ahmed Khan’s Homepage on the internet. This particular article prints out 23 pages with 3 pages of footnotes. The title is appropriate, for Imtiaz uses sensitive self-disclosure alongside thoughtful reflection.

Imtiaz comments on the American leaders who, after the 9/11 attacks, began dividing the world into those who are for civilization and those who are for terrorism. Imtiaz suspects that the democratic ideal of freedom really translates as free to be rich. Personally, I am concerned that anyone might sincerely put all Americans into this kind of grouping (greedy and materialistic), and I would like to address Imtiaz as a peer in humanity.

There are usually shades of gray or complex layers to unfold when trying to understand human behavior and events. Behavior is often on a continuum ranging from mild to extreme. However, the horrific attacks seemed indeed to invoke an all or nothing response personally and globally. There was no neutrality. It became necessary to choose sides. But this was not a demand made by American leaders as much as it was the backfire of terrorism. It was the terrorist organizations that created the conditions forcing people to choose between civilization and destruction. Is this such a difficult choice?

The choosing of sides was actually an opportunity for individuals and nations to assess their values and take a public stand. People could decide for themselves if they wanted to be friend or foe. It was an open door for former enemies or the ambivalent to become allies. Yesterday was gone, and today had become a changed and new era of politics. It was also a golden opportunity for Muslims to assert the teachings of true Islam.

Free to be rich? What is wrong with being rich? Are there not wealthy Muslims? Speaking for myself, I have never made much money as a social worker, and there are many Americans who make even less than I do. Yes, I understand that Imtiaz refers to Middle East oil money, trade agreements, and so on. As Americans, we all reap the benefits of and have become dependent on oil. We also pay for this. Perhaps the real issue is the distribution of wealth in the Middle Eastern countries that sell the oil.

Imtiaz also criticizes America for bombing Afghanistan, “one of the poorest nations on earth.” Again, this is not something that America had any choice over in terms of self-defense. Afghanistan happened to be the unfortunate country where a terrorist organization chose to hide out. What was America supposed to do? Bomb Canada? Of course not. Afghanistan was bombed not because it is poor and easy or because Afghan lives are worth less than American lives. Specific areas were bombed because of terrorist-related activity.

In fact, the Afghan leaders were asked to cooperate in turning over the terrorist organizations within their borders. They were given time to do this, and they refused. Had they cooperated, the bombing might have been unnecessary. Moreover, the American military dropped food packets for the Afghan citizens. As soon as the American defense began, America was already thinking ahead about rebuilding Afghanistan.

At present, the Peace Corps is evaluating the possibility of sending volunteers to Afghanistan. The Christian Children’s Fund is helping 3,000 children in displaced persons camps, with plans to help thousands more. The C.C.F. has refurbished a school in Kunduz for refugee children. For many of these kids, this is the first educational program they have ever attended. World Vision is working together with U.N.I.C.E.F. and World Food Programme to provide food, blankets and medicine to Afghan refugees. An organizational effort known as Operation Christmas Child distributed gifts to over 100,000 Afghan children in 2001.

His essay goes on, “We are passing through a weak phase in our history and we should not feel the need to defend every Muslim for any action. Unfortunately, some Muslims can do certain things which are not only forbidden in themselves, but can also lead to the dishonouring of Islam and threaten the safety of other Muslims.” This passage shows courage and reflection. Only by disowning the extremist segments can Muslims preserve their true religion and live in peace with non-Muslims.

It is very difficult, probably impossible, to analyze the mind of a terrorist without actually talking with one. Whatever motivates them, their behavior is unacceptable and not to be tolerated. If they perceive that wrongs have been committed against them by America, and if they are true Muslims, then their faith should serve as a source of guidance for any confrontation. If they are not true Muslims, then the Muslim community need not feel compelled to justify them. They deserve no sympathy. They are not folk heroes. They are to be held accountable for their actions. In the end, as I expect Imtiaz might concur, a Higher Power will judge us all. (Written 05/06/02)

Bibliography Notes:

1.) “The Events of September 11: Thoughts and Emotions,” by S. M. Atif Imtiaz, from the Masud Ahmed Khan’s Homepage website, [WWW document] URL
2.) “Crisis Update: Afghanistan,” in World Vision Today, Spring 2002. See p. 29.
3.) “Children in Afghanistan Find Ray of Hope,” in Childworld (Christian Children’s Fund), Spring 2002. See p. 3.