Editor’s Notebook: The day the world went away | SierraSun.com
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Editor’s Notebook: The day the world went away

Nik Dirga, Sierra Sun Editor

My brother finally got to a phone last Thursday morning.

“I’ve been working the last four days in a row,” Chas told me. “It’s been crazy.”

My brother works as an emergency room nurse at the Washington Hospital Center, about 15 minutes down the road from the Pentagon.

When the fire came down from the skies, he was working on some patient’s charts.

“I was just sitting there and my friend came from watching the TV and said, ‘You ought to check this out,'” Chas said. “And we saw the hole from the first plane (at the World Trade Center) and I said, ‘That’s not too bad, that’s just a little hole,’ and then we saw the other one hit it.”

“Then in a couple of minutes we heard about the Pentagon.”

Most of the Pentagon’s initial casualties were sent to Arlington Hospital, and Washington Hospital Center got the patients who weren’t sent to Arlington.

They saw nearly 500 victims in a few hours’ time.

“They kept telling us, ‘This is not a drill,” Chas said. “All hospitals have plans for this happening and it went real smooth.”

Most of the Pentagon victims were suffering from burn injuries.

“Even the people that deal with trauma surgery, all of them were saying this is the worst ever,” Chas said.

In the nation’s capital, even the hospitals were feared to be possible targets.

“There’s people out there with M-16s, checking the IDs of everybody that goes in,” Chas told me.

When he called me Thursday, Chas was looking forward to a few days off.

“I think I’m going to see a movie later,” he said. “Something funny.”

My most fervent thoughts this past week, besides grief for the many, many victims, is that we don’t let the terrorists win by making us as evil as they are.

We don’t let them win by letting us decide it’s OK to judge every Muslim, Sikh and dark-skinned Middle Easterner in America as a terrorist.

We don’t let them win by crying for more innocent blood to be shed.

We don’t let them win by letting hate take over.

When a nurse, a doctor or a firefighter does their job, they don’t hate. They have no time for hate. They have to get the job done.

There are people out there who are using this tragedy as an excuse to vent their own prejudices and hatred.

People like Jerry Falwell, Baptist minister, who had this to say on The 700 Club television program last Thursday:

“I really believe the pagans, the abortionists, and the feminists and the gays and lesbians, who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who tried to secularize America, I point this thing in their face and say, ‘You helped this to happen.'”

And Pat Robertson, former presidential candidate and the host of The 700 Club, nodded his head and said, “I totally concur.”

Nothing like Christian love and brotherhood in a time of crisis, eh?

All Christians, all non-Christians, should do as President Bush did and refute Falwell’s hideously ignorant and hateful statement, a statement that takes an act of fanatical violence and somehow turns it into an indictment of people whose beliefs and lifestyles don’t happen to coincide with Jerry Falwell’s.

Is that really any different than the message the terrorists were trying to send when they killed thousands of people?

You tell me.

I’m just glad that idiots like Jerry Falwell don’t really represent the majority of Americans or the majority of Christians.

In the face of public outrage at his comments, Falwell later backpedaled ever-so-slightly, saying that he didn’t actually mean that liberals caused the attack. Instead, Falwell said he believes the ACLU and other organizations “which have attempted to secularize America, have removed our nation from its relationship with Christ on which it was founded.”

“I therefore believe that that created an environment which possibly has caused God to lift the veil of protection which has allowed no one to attack America on our soil since 1812,” he said.

If God chose to let this happen, that’s not a God I want to believe in. God had no part in this horror, I think – instead, just petty, small, evil men and their hatred for all that makes America great.

It’s impossible not to hate the people who did this; harder still to keep that hatred focused and not just lash out.

Sure, I want Osama bin Laden or whomever is proven responsible for this to be eradicated from the face of the earth. But I don’t think thousands of innocent Afghanis who don’t support the Taliban deserve that fate, and I hope we do the best we can to be honorable in our vengeance.

I hope we can remember that humanity, at heart, is better than these terrorists. Whether you’re Christian, atheist, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, agnostic or heck, even a pagan, we’re better than people like them.

We have to be.

— Sierra Sun editor Nik Dirga grew up in Nevada County.


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