In Search of Peaceful Tracks

by Jan Baughman

September 17, 2001

Share this story by E-mail


On Tuesday, September 11, 2001 we watched the scenes in horror, on television or in person, the airplanes slicing through the World Trade Center towers like butter, the fortress of the Pentagon penetrated. Soon the shock of the physical destruction and the incomprehensible planning it took to carry out these acts turned to grappling with the loss of lives of those who unknowingly boarded a plane or routinely went to their office. We began to hear the stories of those dead or missing and they became human and we became horrified.

It is at after this point in the process that I arrive at a loss with the emotions of those surrounding me. Because what came next was a commitment to inflict the same horror and destruction on others, and a desire for revenge that I cannot fathom. Suddenly, it was not a human tragedy but an American tragedy. A war was waged against us and we will fight back at any cost. We must do what it takes to make the world a safer place for our children and send a message to would-be "terrorists" that they will not defeat us.

Today we talk of "terrorist cells" spread out throughout the United States and the world. So how many regions of our own (San Diego, South Florida, New Jersey, New York?) and how many countries, including our allies, do we have to bomb in order to destroy "the cells?" And how many innocent humans, innocent humans just like those in 1 World Trade Center, and 2 World Trade Center, and the Pentagon, and United Airlines flights 93 and 175, and American Airlines flights 11 and 77 will we coincidentally kill to make our point? To restore "peace?" Will we listen to their human stories and donate blood for their survivors, those other innocent victims of "terrorism?" And will it end there?

Sadly, no. What if we were to try a different approach and say "enough is enough" and lay down our weapons? To take the time to ask why we find ourselves in this position, and what we can do to change it, not to just keep raising the stakes higher and higher? We were not attacked by another country, though we will no doubt bomb many to show our resolve. But even if we were to "succeed" and wipe out a generation of potential "terrorists," would not the generation to follow be even more resolved to avenge them? IS ANYONE THINKING THIS THROUGH, or will we, As Milo Clark says, continue to fight the last war?

Sadly, yes. This week, the country came to a standstill, both emotionally and logistically. As business-as-usual (which it will not be) slowly returns, we will be asked and will overwhelmingly agree to give up some conveniences in order to be "safe." We will sacrifice our children's education and health and freedom in the name of power and democracy....and the very freedoms for which we claim to fight. Our anger will mount, the faceless enemy will be vilified and dehumanized and objectified and justified until we reach the point of readiness to inflict our revenge and we will applaud their deaths, forgetting the same horror and disgust felt toward those who applauded ours. And no, we will not be told their human stories, and no, it will not end there.

I do not display a flag, and I do not attend prayer vigils, but I do think seriously and often of the people who died this week and the New York City I knew which no longer exists. And I greatly fear the war to come, and even more, that to follow because we are deliberately and methodically being led down an ever more violent path with no end in sight, and I am sick because I don't know how to divert the train onto more peaceful tracks, away from all this carnage.


Jan Baughman is a scientist in the Biotech Industry. When Jan does not travel around the world on behalf of the company where she manages a clinical research department, she spends most of her time devouring books like candies and relaxing over the preparation of the finest recipes in Northern California. She started writing at a very young age when she found this mode of expression easier than having to answer the perpetually boring and conservative chit-chat around her. Jan's sense of observation is directly related to her sense of humor. She is a founding member and co-editor of Swans, and brings to the site wit and a lightness of being.

Please, DO NOT steal, scavenge or repost this work without the expressed written authorization of Swans, which will seek permission from the author. This material is copyrighted. All rights reserved.

                                 E-mail this article to someone
       Enter her/his E-mail address: 



This Week's Internal Links

Terror Speculations - by Milo Clark

The Fruits of the Whirlwind - by Aleksandra Priestfield

For The Asking - by Michael W. Stowell

Waist Deep In The Big Muddy, And The Big Fool Says To Press On - by Stephen Gowans

My Patriotism Was Not Offended - by John Blunt

The Lost Opportunities of Liberty - by Gilles d'Aymery

Nuclear Weapons Free Zone - by Michael W. Stowell

Alexander Lukashenko Gets The Milosevic Treatment - by Stephen Gowans

I Had A Dream Says Carla Del Ponte - by Edward S. Herman

A Novel Way To Advertise: Fay Weldon And The Bulgari Connection - by Alma A. Hromic


Other commentaries by Jan Baughman

Living with Necromimesis (1/30/97)

Let 'em Eat Kale (11/21/99)

Animals on the Cutting Edge (2/7/99)

One More Clone Perspective (2/27/97)

The Best System on Earth (if You Can Afford it) (7/10/00)


Published September 17, 2001
[Copyright]-[Archives]-[Resources]-[Main Page]