Sunday, October 09, 2005

Subway Melody.

Riding subway trains in New York every day is a treat. It is an adventure that is unique to this city. Passengers are entertained by musicians or comedians, kids perform dances or play home made percussion instruments, poets recite their works.

Sometimes passengers get a chance to observe live theater. People insult each other, declare their love, get into fist fights, commit crimes and have sex on the subways (the presence of police officers has curtailed some of the anti-social stuff that was so common in the early seventies). The trains are a part of the daily lives of millions of people, from every walk of life, ethnicity and economic level. Mayor Blumberg rides the subways. The subways are a kind of underground city, which is (sometimes) a lot more democratic than the above-ground city. Subways are the id; sidewalks the ego; and penthouses are the superegos of New York.

During the past several days cops have been everywhere in the system. Other security precautions have also been taken because of new threats to blow up trains during the rush hour. I want to ask any terrorists who come upon these words -- it is reported that terrorists like to search the Internet -- why they believe that killing a bunch of people, like me and my family members, will help their cause?

I am not rich. I have my share of troubles. I am not an apologist for the government, though there is a lot of what the U.S. government does of which I happen to approve (also plenty that I loathe). Although I love the USA., I am sometimes highly critical of the Bush Administration. I have no influence on public events. I am no international corporation. Tell me why you want to kill me. If you want to blow up, say, New Jersey ... I may be a lot more sympathetic. Just kidding. But why hurt people who are only struggling to survive, even in Jersey?

Most of the people on those trains are working every day, tired, baffled by international events (as most of us are), hoping to love and be loved by a few others, so as to find a little happiness in their lives. They want to get home and rent a movie, spend a little time with their loved-ones (me too), before going to work again. Why would you want to hurt them, us? How can doing such a thing help you? How does it make you anything but evil, regardless of the faith that you hold or the ethical beliefs that you claim to hold? Struggle for justice, legally, as I do. Make your arguments -- preferably publicly -- but avoid violence. I know about anger at injustice. For that reason you must never commit the crimes against others that have been committed against you -- because you're better than they are. (See "What is it like to be tortured?")

No understanding of God or religion can make such an action, violence against the innocent, anything but morally repulsive. Hurting someone, like me, for saying this publicly only makes it more repulsive -- and cowardly.

There is some part of you that knows that hurting innocent people is evil. I am hoping that I can speak to that part of you, deep inside, that still feels compassion and sympathy for others and that hopes to bring to justice the monsters who hurt others, like Terry and Diana. It is that part of you also that is saying this to yourself: Do not hurt your brothers and sisters, your fellow human beings, for any cause. No matter who says something different. Make peaceful struggle for justice your cause. Do not "condition" people; don't presume to provide them with a "correct" view of life, but argue for your view concerning the most persuasive or best option. Don't try to force it on people.

A bomb that kills or maims thousands of innocent people, that does economic harm to my city, and makes life harder for ordinary people who live here, will only hurt the cause of those responsible for it. You will gain nothing while losing any chance of persuading Americans of the justice of your cause, to say nothing of what will happen to you if you are caught -- and you probably will be, if you live -- so why do this? Don't do it. And before you decide to become a "suicide bomber," because it sounds heroic, consider what that first word means. Think of those who love you. For the sake I my loved-ones, I will fight (legally) for justice.

Nothing makes hurting or killing innocent people O.K. Nothing excuses or justifies it -- not even the fact that others may have done the same to those you care about or yourself. There are better ways to communicate. Express your opinions, shout them to the world, fearlessly, but do not injure innocent persons. Trust in legal institutions, internationally or domestically. They're not much, but they're all we've got. Keep your fingers crossed. Try to avoid New Jersey.

Hate is not the answer to any dispute. Violence will only lead to more violence. Think.

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