At the crossroads

In the coming days, the history and future of the world will be painstakingly written, page by page, by those studious enough to hold their cameras up as the world collapsed upon them. Thus, it is with a certain sadness and resolve that America’s war against terrorism proceeds with little abatement.

In reaction, people have drawn their ideological lines in the sand.

Despite the possibility of further bloodshed, more civilian deaths and the threat of a global war, some of the most reasonable and pacifistic Canadians are currently advocating a harsh military response. Unfortunately, these same Canadians are not using words like "justice," "tolerance" or "understanding"–values on which Western societies and freedoms are based. Instead, they are using words like "retribution," "revenge" and "retaliation."

In short, some of us are justifying a war–not a cruise missile strike or low-risk bombing raids, but a war. They argue that a war is necessary because this enemy does not play by our rules. By murdering completely innocent civilians, the advocates of war know that this enemy has no values and no recognition of democratic freedoms. Therefore, liberal policies have no place in the upcoming days.

Jack Gough, in a letter to the CBC, captures this sentiment succinctly: "In the face of a hatred which is boundless, which uses and twists a great religion to achieve its ends and which finds no wrong in dissembling or in using innocents as shields or tools, we can only say that we face evil. This evil is not sprung from a particular ethnic or religious background. It is a manifestation of all that is [the] worst in us regardless of our cultural or religious inheritance."

In direct response, an anti-war movement has begun. In its defence, writers argue that the best of us–regardless of our cultural or religious inheritance–have the ability to administer peaceful means of resolution. Because humans are capable of striving for higher goals free of destruction and bloodshed, we should capitalize on this ability to create a new world order that places social justice for all as its end result.

While petition e-mails and Web sites flood around the globe, all state that war is not a solution to the terrorist threat, nor will it deliver catharsis to the American people. Hatred begets violence and vice versa. The cycle of bloodshed will forever continue whether the American government can isolate those responsible for this incident or not.

According to columnist Judy Rebick, "Turning grief, fear and anger into a positive force for change in the world will take a lot of courage and determination. A generation ago, young people stopped the hand of their government in a war. Today the task is even greater."

In the coming days, the history and future of the world will be written by a society whose sentiments were deeply divided on the course of action. As students at a university, we are fortunate enough to be among those capable of evaluating this decision thoughtfully and appropriately. Do you advocate the eradication of evil? Do you believe that peaceful paths will ultimately save us against terror?

At the very least, we are all agreed in the hope that America’s tragedy will change the world–for better or for worse.

The quoted comments can be viewed at


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