The recent horrific events have caused us to express outrage and to reflect. We say we are forever changed, proclaiming united we stand!
People have discovered that real heroes are right in our own neighborhoods, not on some stage or field. Countless people now realize the lifesaving practices of giving blood and opening our wallets. We've prayed, cried and come together in ways we haven't seen for years. But is this a real, long-lasting change?
I fear people's short attention spans and memories will give way to some of the curses surrounding our sense of normalcy. Will it be weeks or months before we become too busy to donate blood?
Will we indeed elevate firefighters, police officers, teachers and nurses to positions of respect and honor, or will we continue to financially reward self-centered, superficial "superstars"? Will people steep themselves in the issues concerning foreign affairs so that we can understand other points of view and the causes that create resentment and hatred? Or will we switch the channel and settle on the intrigue of the WWF?
Will we allocate the necessary funds to finance reasonable, constitutional measures to protect us, or will we continue to stuff the treasuries of big business to ward off imaginary missile attacks?
Will the "united we stand" stance of so many government officials cause them to rediscover service, the art of compromise and the common good? Or will politics return to "business as usual" based on petty, self-serving behavior?
Will our sense of unity and community succumb to prejudice and xenophobic ranting? Will the thousands of deaths be honored by our actions, or desecrated by counterproductive measures?
I am encouraged by some of the reactions. There are repeated calls for the targeting of the guilty and the sparing of the innocent.
Many implore our leaders to engage a broad-based coalition and to have definitive proof to retaliate against the perpetrators of evil. The call has been sent out to protect the rights of Muslim citizens in the United States and to foster Muslim cooperation in the development of solutions to these international problems.
We may have actually learned some lessons from our past. While time is the great healer of our many wounds, time will also tell us what changes await us.
GARY M. SCHULENBERG