October 2, 2001

Beginning of the Road

By Dane Sorensen


During the last full day in London we found the tube moving slower than normal. On our way home after seeing "The Lion King" our train had to skip Leicester Square station due to an emergency evacuation. The tube public announcement said there were to be no further trains running. Nothing was on the news that evening so we have no idea if it was a real danger or some prank call. Thus we were still affected by September 11 even though we are so far from New York.

I was touched by the support I saw in Great Britain - our special ally. When we visited St. Paul's Cathedral, which was designed by Christopher Wren after the Great Fire in London, we saw the American Chapel altar surrounded by flowers. Just the fact of this chapel existing in the most important church in Great Britain shows that their esteem for us is very high. Before the main altar was a group of candles burning with a sign suggesting those who wish to light a candle in prayer for all those lost in America may do so here. I watched a woman who obviously was of Mideast descent light a candle.

During our last day in London I had my hair cut by a Kurd from Iraq. He had been lucky enough to leave Iraq and now was a barber in London. We talked about how hard it had been for his people because of Sadam. I told him the world would never forget the photo of the mother and babe lying still after dying from a mustard gas attack.

All the world over people are wondering when the damage will stop. It is a time when events are moving faster than what we can absorb. Swiss Air joined Continental in bankruptcy. Video images show Taliban enforcers beating women because their veils had slipped down too far. Afghan women learning to read are facing a death sentence if discovered. Once again in the name of a god people are oppressed. We live in an age where gods are either blessing those against America or promising to come to America's aid. It is a conflict where emotions run very high.

It is not a very proud moment for rationalism and logic. Events have revealed that we don't have much over 1001 A.D. We still must use violence to stop violence. What are we showing our children? Although liberty is self-evident to us, it is still necessary to defend it by arms.

In the London Times I read a multi-page essay on why everyone hates America. It all came down to two reasons: envy and ignorance. Most third world countries blame their poverty on America. Most second rate countries feel they should be treated as equals when they clearly don't measure up. So many people love their Coca Cola, their American blue jeans, but cheered when the towers fell. Many who owe their wealth and incomes to American derived technologies have a split personality by hating America. It does and does not make sense.

Like many Americans, I wish for answers to all this. I wish President Bush well on his efforts to destroy the nests of terrorists that exist all over the world. I don't know if either more fear or more respect are necessary to keep these America haters at bay. As always there are no maps to the future and it will take all our rational intelligence to keep this irrational hatred out of our borders and our lives.


     Return to Index of Beginning of the Road Column