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Thoughts on a National Crisis

NAbout forty minutes ago, my roommate called me and asked me, "Did you hear about the planes crashing into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon?"

I thought he had said to me, "Did you hear about the planes crashing into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon?" but that's obviously a ridiculous statement, so I asked him to repeat himself. He did, and I realized that _is_ what he said. He added and told me about the plane crashing near my current hometown of Pittsburgh and that Carnegie Mellon has shut down. Thoughts raced. Who died? Are we at war? Will anyone else be attacked? What can I do?

Five minutes later, my big brother Garret (mind you, we have two entirely different sets of parents and were born several hundred miles apart, but he is still my big brother) e-mailed me to find out if I was okay. He's a good big brother.

The nice thing, if there can be a nice thing about this, is that everyone seems concerned. I've already gotten a few other are you all right and what's going on messages from other people. I know in New York, where major damage went down, the city of "rude people," according to an old silly stereotype, is reported to be working together to be helping each other evacuate. There is crisis and fear, but also apparently a fair amount of compassion.

We are all frightened of course that something else will happen, but I think whoever has planned this has proven their point: even with our overblown defense budget (though much of the money is misspent), we the world's greatest superpower are not invulnerable. New York City and Washington, DC are in chaos. Parts of Pittsburgh are shutting down to get away from the Software Engineering Institute, a viable target. DC's neighbor Baltimore is also apparently in an uproar. Communication is somewhat disrupted at least in local sectors, and major travel is shut down. The point has been made. Chaos will slowly return to cosmos, we hope, but I think the objective has been achieved. It's scary.

For the immediate situation, the people will pull together and sort things out and clean things up over time. I fear much more regarding retaliation, however. How far will we go to find a culprit--or a scapegoat? How paranoid will we get in our defensive measures?

We can only wait and see. Do what we can.

And pray.


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All original materials © 2003 R. Pickard