Working towards peace and sustainability

10 Years Ago: A Statement We Wish Had Been Heeded.

Within a matter of hours after the horrible, criminal attacks of 9/11, it was clear that there were those in high office who would use this tragedy to advance their own agendas. By noon that day we at Peaceworks had sent a message out calling for people to come together--as more than 300 did that evening--to promote a message "Condemn the Tragedy, Don't Compound It." Within a few days we'd geared up informational forums, rallies, vigils for peace and much more.

One piece of that "much more" was a signature ad. We began collecting names a week after 9/11 and ran a full-page ad in the Tribune, with more than 800 names, on the one-month anniversary. Sadly, four days prior to the ad running, the U.S. began its attack on Afghanistan. Below is the text of that statement, which we believe is still quite relevant today.

Justice, Not Revenge

The horrible events of September 11th 2001, are etched indelibly in all of our minds. We unequivocally condemn the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as crimes

against humanity and extend our condolences to all victims’ loved ones. The perpetrators who are still alive must be brought to justice.

War, however, is not an appropriate response to the tragedy. Bombing and killing innocent civilians will only compound the horror and feed a cycle of violence.

While some say “this is war,” and “in war we must accept collateral damage,” we believe otherwise. The innocents who would be killed in the bombing or invasion of Afghanistan, or any other country, are just that, innocents. They no more deserve to lose their lives than those in New York and Washington who died in these hideous attacks one month ago.

Some of our fellow citizens are eager for revenge. While we understand your anger and frustration, we suggest a different perspective. In the words of Gandhi, “an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”

We call instead for seeking justice under law. If we can determine who the perpetrators are, let’s act, as our Constitution and the United Nations Charter prescribe, by the rule of law.

Finally, this tragedy should not be used as a rationale for excessive military spending, an increasingly interventionist foreign policy or limitations of our civil liberties and freedoms. It behooves us, instead, to explore new understandings of the role of our nation in the world community. We must pursue a foreign policy based upon international cooperation, sustainable development, social justice and respect for democracy. Pursuing such a vision may well be the best prescription toward preventing further terrorist violence.

Only by realizing that war will not help us to achieve the peaceful, prosperous and secure world we all long for, can we come together and move forward to create such a future.