Thoughts from a New Yorker

"I fear that all we have done is awaken a sleeping tiger, and filled him with a terrible resolve." --Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto after the attack on Pearl Habor

I'm not sure I can convey to you just how much I love the city of New York. I grew up here amid its clutter, its swirling melange of cultures, its maddeningly and intoxicatingly busy streets. I love it for what it is and for what it means. In so many ways it represents the best of what humankind can be. I'm just sorry it took something like the tragedy of September 11th for the world to see what compassionate, caring people New Yorkers really are.

What an impossible, whimsical thing is a skyscraper! It's a celebration of the human spirit that stands in defiance of geography, of gravity, of the limits the universe imposes on us. It's the embodiment of man's need to reach higher, farther, faster—to create what isn't—to do what can't be done. It is the triumph of reason over nature.

That's the spirit New York City captures—the spirit of a nation. Like the skyscraper, the United States could not have happened by accident. It didn't evolve, it was built. It wasn't formed by random chance, it was engineered from the beginning to be a land where free people could come together and, unfettered, achieve anything. It was built, girder by girder, on a foundation of reason and freedom. It is the celebration of the human spirit. It is the celebration of life.

That's why it was attacked, because it embodies the good of which mankind is capable. Those who worship death, whose highest goal is to destroy what they cannot create, whose ultimate aim is the immolation of the human spirit, believed that by destroying the results of a thing, they could destroy its cause. They were wrong.

We have the opportunity, now, to put the QED on the proof that is the United States. No clearer demonstration could possibly exist that mankind has but one fundamental choice: reason or irrationality, freedom or slavery, the celebration of life or the worship of death. There is no middle ground, no grey area, no wiggle room.

Bring us not only your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Bring us, as well, your delight in that breath for its own sake. Bring us your joy in the very act of shaping the universe as you choose. Bring us your will to create, your desire to achieve, your love of life for its own sake. Join in our celebration of Man as a noble creature and of freedom as his only rational choice.

By using this tragedy to forge bonds with countries and people from whom we've been kept by petty, irrational differences, we can make the world that much smaller. Just as the world became too small, too interconnected, to support the massive scale of oppression that was required to maintain the Soviet Union, we can make it too small to accept the existence of the death-worshippers and the destroyers. We can leave them no wounds to infect, no darkness in which to fester.

If, instead, we yield to the anger and hatred our animal instincts demand, if we simply launch ourselves on a campaign of bloodlust and revenge, of indiscriminant bombing and ineffectual shows of military might, we will be giving in to the death-worshippers and proving them right. We will be destroying everything on which this country was built. Civilization is a cooperative effort. It's not a natural resource or a gift of manna. It's a painstaking, rational process. Without thought, it cannot exist. Without reason, it cannot survive.

I implore you, in these most delicate of times, to use the one tool you have which can accomplish anything: your mind. Question everything. Look for the motives behind the slogans. Test the assumptions on which pronouncements are made. Think.