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thoughts about terrorism and death


Dear Ciara,



The nightmares have begun. Last night I dreamed that my niece was kidnapped, put on a plane, flown through horrible maneuvers, and then forced to take a fatal dose of medication. Her body and a videotape of the terror were then delivered to my family. Her last words were a question: "Was I bad?"



The U.S. has not responded--investigations are underway, and I doubt anything will be done swiftly. But the bottom line is that war is here, and that means death.




Death is a strange thing. If it happens after a long illness, it is something we meet with rejoicing amid our personal feelings of loss. If the person who died shared our faith, we rejoice and comfort ourselves with the belief that he or she is with Jesus. We carefully avoid talking about the implications for those we love who die without sharing our faith. Yet I suspect that many of us think about these things somewhere in the farther recesses of our minds.



But even in spite of this hope we claim to have, we cling to this life, and we avoid talk of death. We even go so far as to avoid the word death. We use phrases like "passed on," "deceased," or "gone home to be with the Lord". In hospitals, nurses call, "Code blue," over the intercoms to avoid upsetting other patients. Are there really many people who don't know what Code blue is? Why are we so afraid to say the word "death"?



When I was a little girl, I heard the word "terrorist" on the news associated with events overseas. Now I hear it associated with America, and I am beginning to understand what it means. It should be obvious, but as a child I didn't take the word apart--and I didn't know the real meaning of the word terror. Perhaps I stilldon't. But a terrorist is simply a person who makes it his life's mission to cause terror. The people who cmomitted these acts this week were much more than terrorists. They were out to not only terrorize but destroy. They intended to destroy American centers of government and economy, and they intended to destroy life. No life is sacred to them--not the lives of the American people and not their own. Their purpose in life--their holy purpose--is to remove Americans, including civilians, from the earth because, in their view, America wants to control the world.



The news and conversations are alive with stories of how "America is united". Families are drawn together; strangers treat one another with kindness. Yet this is not the whole truth. There is hate, too. The terrorists were Arabs; therefore, in some people's eyes, all Arabs are evil and should suffer. Their religion was Islam; therefore, all Muslims surely share their sentiments. And angry Americans are unkind.



There is also greed. Gas station owners raised the prices of gas from around $1.50 per gallon to $2, $4, and in some places even $7 per gallon! On the Internet, people have postsedauctions claiming they are selling pieces of the World Trade Center! Scam artists claim to raise money to help victims of the attacks. Is America really united?


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Sarah Blake LaRose
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