The Common Good


Sojomail - September 13, 2001

               S P E C I A L   E D I T I O N

           Promoting values at the crossroads where
           spirituality, politics, and culture meet

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        In response to the tragic terrorist attack on
        the United States, we are sending out special
        editions of SojoMail this week.


++++++++++++++++++++ 13-September-2001 ++++++++++++++++++++

 Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
     *TV anchors as guides

 H e a r t s   &   M i n d s
     *A service of unity in diversity

 B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
     *Are you all right?

 S o u l   W o r k s
     *Prayer for healing

 P. O. V.
     *Noam Chomsky: Higher security may not make us safe

 B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
     *Americans worry about more terrorist attacks

 P o l i t i c a l l y   C o n n e c t
     *How the British press is covering the events of the week

 B o o m e r a n g
     *SojoMail readers hit reply


Q u o t e  o f  t h e  W e e k

"Absent national political leadership, the
burden of rallying the nation fell as usual
upon the TV anchors...."

      - Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair
         in Counterpunch, Sept. 12, 2001


H e a r t s   &   M i n d s
A Service of Unity in Diversity

by Jim Wallis

I've just returned from a very moving city-wide 
interfaith prayer service here in Washington, D.C. 
Gaston Hall at Georgetown University was packed 
as people heard a service which began with an 
Islamic Call to Prayer and ended with a Jewish 
Cantor sounding the shofar for healing and peace. 
Several religious leaders from all traditions 
participated, along with D.C. Mayor Anthony 
Williams. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick gave a 
powerful and pastoral reflection. I read a 
portion of "Deny Them Their Victory: A Religious 
Response to Terrorism," the statement we included 
in yesterday's SojoMail.

When I returned to the office, I found that we had 
already received more than 100 signatories from 
leaders of denominations, national and local 
faith-based organizations, and seminaries; along 
with theologians, local pastors and rabbis. The 
signers so far are Protestant, Catholic, Evangelical, 
Historic Black Church, Jewish, and Muslim. As support 
continues to come in to our office, we are working 
with the National Council of Churches to compile 
them and will send out a press release later today. 
Our statement has touched something that people needed 
to hear and are eager to support. We invite you to use 
the statement in whatever ways you find useful.


B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
Are you all right?

by David Batstone

The terrorists responsible for the bombings
deserve to be punished. And those who plot
such hateful acts -- even in the name of 
"freedom," "nationalism," "God," and 
"justice" -- must be stopped. That standard 
holds for our own military operations - and 
the retaliation that is sure to come - as it 
does for rogue bands who show little respect 
for innocent lives.

But in the coming days and weeks, we are in
danger of preoccupying ourselves with the
rogues, when our primary concern should be
closer to home. We have to focus on one
one another in practical ways.

Within hours of the attack, I was receiving -
and sending - emails and phone calls from
around the globe with the simple message: "Are
you all right?" The relief of hearing a "yes,
we're fine," was followed by an outpouring of
anger, confusion, and compassion. From San
Francisco to New York, Australia to Scotland,
Sweden to El Salvador, we were comforted by
our connection and grief.

Perhaps my most primal instinct was to hold my
children close to me and let them know that
they would be all right in the world. I had a
hard time sending them off to school on Tuesday,
even though I knew rationally that they were at
little risk from danger in rural California. It
is the intangible sense of vulnerability that

Nearly a decade ago, I was held up by gun point
in my home in the inner city of Oakland. While
I obviously survived the ordeal, my psyche and
emotional life continued in disarray for months
to come. I sought refuge in the search for and
punishment of the perpetrators of this crime,
and pretty much glossed over the damage it had
done to me personally.

I fear we might make the same mistake as a nation.
Now is the time for strength of character -- 
especially restraint, resilience, and compassion -- 
not fear, panic, or trauma. Let's assume that 
none of us is completely "all right," and all of 
us need some support.

Recently I saw the movie "Unbreakable." The
best line in the movie came when the wife asks her
husband when he first realized that their marriage
was breaking apart. His reply (more or less):
"When I woke up in the middle of night from a bad dream
and shared it with you, you no longer held me and
told me it would be all right."

Let's do a little sharing, and holding, and
reassuring this week. The self-destructive effects
of evil need not triumph.




S o u l   W o r k s
Prayer for healing

By Honey Rubin

Holy Spirit, let this call for Love be answered
through me now.

May the memory of God and the thoughts that God
would think with me be all that is in my mind and
may the memory of God be restored to every mind on
the planet.

May we use this moment to create greater clarity
and intention of being instruments of Love, peace
and harmony.

May the angels hold us all precious - those who
suffer and strike out in pain as well as those
whose lives have been touched by the events of
this week, and especially may those of us who
pray be tenderly aware of and receptive to the
Love that has been called forth.

In the name and nature of all that is Holy, we
join as one in prayer.

Honey Judith Rubin is a writer, speaker, and trainer
who lives in Marietta, Georgia. Much of her work
is based on the healing power of forgiveness.


P. O. V.
Higher security may not make us safe

By Noam Chomsky

The events reveal, dramatically, the foolishness of
ideas about "missile defense." As has been obvious all
along, and pointed out repeatedly by strategic analysts,
if anyone wants to cause immense damage in the U.S.,
including weapons of mass destruction, they are highly
unlikely to launch a missile attack, thus guaranteeing
their immediate destruction. There are innumerable
easier ways that are basically unstoppable. But
today's events will, nonetheless, be used to increase
the pressure to develop these systems and put them into
place. "Defense" is a thin cover for plans for
militarization of space, and with good PR, even the
flimsiest arguments will carry some weight among a
frightened public.

In short, the crime is a gift to the hard jingoist
right, those who hope to use force to control their
domains. That is even putting aside the likely U.S.
actions, and what they will trigger - possibly more
attacks like this one, or worse. The prospects ahead
are even more ominous than they appeared to be before
the latest atrocities.


B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
Americans worry about more terrorist attacks

*87% feel that the bombings of Sept. 11 were the
"most tragic news event in their lives."

*58% of Americans worry that their families will
be a victim of a terrorist attack; the previous
high was 42% following the Oklahoma City bombing
in 1995.

*86% of Americans perceive the bombings as acts
of war against the U.S..

*Only 21% of Americans said the U.S. military should
make immediate strikes of retaliation; 71% urged
caution until there was clear evidence of those

*66% of Americans say they won't alter their lives
to make themselves less vulnerable to terrorist

*Source: USA Today/Gallup/CNN poll taken Tuesday,
September 11th


P o l i t i c a l l y   C o n n e c t
Extracts from the British press on terrorist attacks

The Daily Telegraph:

"This was, in many ways, the most vicious blow aimed
at the Jewish people since the Holocaust. Though the
victims yesterday were Americans, the chief target
was what the perpetrators would call international
Jewry. New York is not only the richest city on earth,
the capital of capitalism; it is also the largest
Jewish city."

The Guardian:

"America's best defence against terrorism originating from
abroad remains the existence of governments and societies
more or less satisfied with American even-handedness on
issues which are important to them. Plainly, this is
furthest from the case in the Muslim world. That is largely
because of American policy on the conflict between the
Israelis and the Palestinians, but also because there are
some Arabs and other Muslims who also regard American and
Western ascendancy as affronts in themselves.",1300,550464,00.html

The Times:

"To seek revenge would be senseless. America showed after
attacks on its East African embassies in 1998 that it
regards revenge as a legitimate weapon in its geopolitical
arsenal. The bombing of Afghanistan was ineffective. That
of Sudan was illegal and militarily indefensible. Revenge
is not the response of a sophisticated political community.
America above all should know Thomas Paine's plea, to
"lay the axe to the root and teach governments humanity...;
sanguinary punishments corrupt mankind.",,248-2001314680,00.html

The Independent:

"The terrorists can only truly be said to have won
if civilised nations abandon civilised values and
themselves use indiscriminate violence against the
innocent. Restraint, even in the face of such
grievous provocation, has to be the watchword."


B o o m e r a n g

John Oliver, Coordinator of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship in
North America, of Marion, Ohio wrote:

The horror is beyond words. Worse yet would be the
decision to compound this tragedy by pursuing revenge
in spades. 

We are in a new age, as is now apparent to all. The
double standard - powerful states crushing weaker,
practicing injustice and facilitating others to crush
the weak - no longer works. Technology makes this double
standard obsolete, with the notion that security will
follow if we make an example of the perpetrators.

Now, as never before, it is time to attest a higher
ethic that opens our eyes to the sacredness of all
human life. I see this only dimly, not with the clear
vision of saintly souls who have lost loved ones and,
even now, pray for their enemies.


Rev. Judy Morishima-Nelson, M.D. of Seattle, Washington wrote:

People are angry, understandably so, and insisting
that the U.S. "retaliate" and "punish" the people
who crashed the planes on Tuesday. Please understand
that I am not saying that I don't feel that this
was of course a terrible tragedy. However, there
is some level that the U.S. is not entirely innocent
in the area of global relations. I understand that
this does not absolve those guilty of the hijackings;
however, I feel that as a country, the U.S. people
need to realize that "threats to our way of life"
are understandable on the part of those who,
through no fault of their own but for locale of
birth, are not able to participate in it. By our
public officials saying that we need to "defend
our way of life and freedom of opportunity" this
would seem to be largely ignored. Why shouldn't
citizens of other nations have freedom of
opportunity? I was disgusted that in my hometown of
Seattle, WA a high schooler was interviewed on the
radio stating that other countries are jealous of
"what we have because we have worked hard." This
is outrageous, as if people in impoverished nations
don't work hard! Of course other countries and their
people are resentful of us. Perhaps instead of
"retaliation" some reconciliation is called for.


Boomerang is an open forum for all kinds of
views. Want to make your voice heard? Send
Boomerang e-mails to the editor:


or join an online forum on these recent events at:


Coping with The Aftermath of Terrorist Attack -- 
Pastoral Caregivers to Get Practical Help
Live forum available on the Web at

Faith group leaders can get practical help dealing 
with the aftermath of Tuesday's terrorist attacks 
from an interactive conference that can be viewed 
live via the Internet on Friday, September 14, 
from 1 to 3 p.m. ET. It is believed to be the first 
use of video streaming technology to coordinate 
pastoral response in a crisis.

Responding to Tragedy: A Live Video Forum for Pastoral 
Care Workers will feature a panel of counsellors, 
spiritual directors and disaster response professionals. 
They will lead a nationwide, interactive conference 
featuring live feeds from Phoenix, Baltimore, St. Paul, 
and Lexington, Ky.

The event will address practical issues for 
congregational leaders such as options for this 
weekend's worship services, youth concerns,and 
long-term pastoral support. Caregivers will learn 
ways to help congregations and community members 
deal with the emotional and spiritual dimensions 
of the September 11 tragedy and to exchange 
liturgy and worship materials. The conference and 
the moderated discussion are free for all pastors and 
pastoral professionals. 


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