Ten years after 9/11, cycle of violence continues

On Sept. 12, 2001, I wrote a letter to The Sun hoping (praying) that my nation would respond to the Sept. 11 attacks with swift justice rather than protracted war; that we would thoughtfully and strategically aim to increase peace rather than compound violence. We've been warring for 10 years now, and at such cost of lives and treasure — over 5,000 American soldiers and many, many times that in civilian deaths and hundreds of billions of dollars.

True, we finally found and killed the mastermind, but didn't his only real power come from our irrational and disproportionate reaction? We've chosen war instead of justice as the frame for our actions, and that has made a terrible difference at home and abroad. We've been backing the wrong metaphor. As George Elliot said, "We all get our thoughts entangled in metaphors and act fatally upon them."

Ten years later, I still believe what I wrote then: "The future of our world begs that each of us be persistent in our efforts to build community across cultures and nations. We must strengthen our resolve to appreciate human diversity, not retreat into barricaded compounds harboring only the like-minded."

I'd describe our situation today as a crisis of moral imagination. We seem bent on continuing the age-old cycle of violence and retribution and need the courage to develop alternative visions and take creative risks. I've no illusions about this challenge or the lost opportunities wrought from of a decade of war. Hope in such times as these can be a struggle, but it's more a commitment than a feeling and my goal remains to face the fears of living in this complex world head-on, by building peace one relationship at a time.

Joby Taylor, Baltimore

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