On the Terrorist Attack of 11 September 2001

You seek a meaning for this tragedy– shall I recount to you all the disasters, large and small, that the children of Ash and Embla have suffered? Or say to you, “That passed, so shall this.”?

And yet such reflections can bring comfort. . . .

Or shall I say that this is Ragnarok, that it happens again and again, in single disasters or in drawn out agonies? Though this one, I admit, has a kind of Wagnerian splendor that is impressive. Like the sinking of the Titanic, this disaster will, in time, acquire a mythic resonance and stature.

How do you cope with it? As the heroes deal with disaster– they give it meaning by choosing how to respond to it. It is a test, an attack on the pride of your nation. In the long run, it is your pride that will suffer the greatest wound. Your merchants will recover, and those who are stranded will not be exiled from their homes forever. In time, the rubble will be sifted and carted away.. They will make a monument to honor those who fell, as they have made a monument at Auschwitz, another scene of remarkably successful barbarity. And they will build again. That is not what signifies here. Those are known responses.

The danger is to your character as a nation. You are accustomed to think of yourselves as superior beings, rewarded by a mercantile god with the blessings of prosperity. Your great enemy has fallen; you are the richest and most powerful nation– and you are vulnerable to the malice of a few determined men. Will you be vulnerable also to hatred, paranoia, and fear?

I am hardly the one to counsel peace and moderation. But I can legitimately call for honor and justice. You have a chance for greatness, if this event teaches, not humility, but a more accurate self-knowledge. You have the chance to display fortitude, and heroic resolve, rather than a barbaric passion for revenge. Vengeance against the wrong target will be a true diminishment of your nation.

This does not mean that you must apologise for inspiring resentment– the great always inspire envy. But arrogance carries its own punishment, and so does greed. Look carefully at those policies that may be inspired by such motives. Terrorists are fanatics, but they are supported by people who may have real grievances. Still, it is not possible to solve all problems, even with wisdom. Sometimes, you must simply learn to live like a warrior, as the Israelis do.

Truth, Honor, Fortitude. These are the weapons you must wield now, the only ones that can avail you. Tell your followers. Tell your leaders– they are driven in part by their people’s fear. There is a way to live with integrity. Endure, do not despair. Holy Earth remains.

You have endured the past few days with reasonable fortitude, but now you must act with strength as well, and rise above this lethargy. Hiding will not help those who depend on you.

Yes. This is evil, but the scale, which seems so overwhelming, does not make it more evil than the bomb that blows up a house or a car. And good is equally valuable whether it serves an individual or a nation. You should not need me to point out that I am as present here as anywhere.

I have spoken of how your folk may act, in such a way as to stiffen their neighbors. You can work, as well, to make a path for the Powers that will help you. This happened on Tyr’s Day, and it is a cause in which you may well invoke his justice. Seek, if you can, a holy hill from which to call on him. Bind the Wolf once more.

Danger can close down or open wide men’s awareness of the world beyond your own. The choice is yours.