piclist 2002\09\11\091238a >
Thread: September 11th
face BY : Russell McMahon email (remove spam text)

I'm posting this to two mailing lists. In most other circumstance the
content would be deemed "political" and not suitable fare. A year ago, on
both lists, discussion on this subject was encouraged - I hope on the
anniversary that it is still acceptable. I seek to commiserate and encourage
and not to upset, although I know what I say may be received variably. If I
upset anyone please accept my apologies in advance. (Any really rude
comments probably best sent offlist :-(  ). Clearly I can't speak for all my
countrymen - where I say "we" I believe I speak for the majority.

In the USA about now people will be waking up to the morning of September
11th and the memories of the events of a year ago. Here in NZ we have the
privilege of being almost a whole day ahead - for us September 11 has just
ended. While we are a third of the world away and usually relatively
un-influenced by affairs in the US, those of you in the US may like to know
that today was a special day here as well. A lot more US flags than usual
flew here today, and all at half mast.
Across the country there were special services and gatherings - civilians,
police, firemen and even politicians.  Newspaper headlines and special
reports reminded us of the unforgettable and radio stations and TV covered
the events of a year ago.

While it is hard for us to identify with the losses you suffered we have
some links which make the TV's unbelievable images and year old memories
slightly more real. One of the active heroes on flight 93 was an ex-pat New
Zealander. On local radio a NZ woman who was working in the South tower at
the time told about how she survived, and there are others. As in all such
cases, words do a poor job of conveying our sympathies. While we are almost
half a world away we feel for you in your great loss.

The subsequent US response in Afghanistan, while inevitably less than
perfect, successfully targeted many of those responsible for the death of
the innocent victims in the US. (While it may not have been the primary aim,
it also gave a chance for the brutally oppressed majority in Afghanistan to
be more democratically involved in their own futures. How that will work out
is yet to be seen.)

The great danger in any such tragedy is that the avenger may over-react and
become the oppressor. The risk is greater if the enemy is hard to identify
and widespread. Justice is poorly served if, in redressing the wrong to the
innocent, an even greater number of other innocents suffer. I am sure that
we all hope that the US will grow in strength through these events and
become even more a bastion of freedom and justice.

Our small country has stood with your very much larger one on a number of
occasions in the past where freedom and justice for the innocent required
sacrifice and commitment. We appreciate much of what the US has done for the
world and what it represents. We all have the chance to speak out for
justice and freedom - both our own and that of others. In NZ and the US
these hard-won freedoms are freely available - for other peoples it is often
not so - for too many, deciding to speak against "authority" is liable to be
a fatal choice. I encourage you all to use your freedom to help ensure that
the US learns well from this great tragedy and truly stands for both justice
and freedom both for its own citizens and, where appropriate, for those of
other countries as well.

                            Russell McMahon

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