11-M / by Nate Westheimer

11-M(from a letter to my mother)

I understand that many may feel worried or indescribably preoccupied right now, not only with me being here in Spain right now, but also with what generally is seen as "what this world is up to." And I am too, but not for being here. Yes, there was a scare, but it's over. Why? Because if god forbid there is another strike, it will be anywhere in the world. Safer, yes, I would be in Batavia - last I checked it wasn't on the top 50 list for wars or attacks. But now that the attacks have gone, I am no more in harms way than if I were in Boston, NY, Paris, London, Bogotá, Mexico City, Beijing, or anywhere else. Here in Madrid I feel fine... and that goes for my visitors as well.

There is another side of things as well. As Karen pointed out in the email you forwarded me, MY personal experience and life has been attacked in a way too. I hope you know, and please let her know personally, that I am dealing with it well - or as well and one should. I got an email from Zeke yesterday and some of what he said is exactly what Karen feared, and exactly what I don't feel. Of course Zeke and I have always had a sticking point on "who" the terrorists are, how "they" should be feared, and more so, how terrorism can be ended. While I am sickened by the ability these people had to disregard life in such a way by murdering 201 people, I cannot say who they are. Zeke attributed the attacks to: "the same people who hate America and Israel, and have attacked both those places. No country is free from threat. Still, everyday American soldiers are being killed in Iraq (at least 6 yesterday alone). The same is continuing here as well as I am sure you know of the most recent attack at one of our ports in Ashdod."

I cannot say this. The bigger picture and the one we must examine - even when these things happen so close to home and in places that we love and to people whom we could have known - is of what causes terror and what fuels terror. The Kamines gave me a great book last summer called "The Tipping Point" and it was about the contextual and less seen reasons that social and economic changes happen. People who organize and market terror for me are not as different from "reasonable" angry people as it may seem. I think the "fuente" of their actions cannot be reduced to the lowest common denominator as Zeke does. Doing that allows him to say "they" when talking about terror in Israel, Spain, the US, Iraq, Bali, etc. But for me this is not so. We'd be fools to think they are the same and to think that the lowest common denominator was something as harmless as Islam or the Middle East or pertaining to a certain citizenship status. Hence, I do not feel like my land has been spoiled - not Spain, and not the USA. What I do feel is a tremendous amount of pressure to find ways of healing: working to change the contexts in which terrorism, war, violence in general is seen as appropriate. I guess, in all honesty, what I hope for is a more civil world for everyone. Civility shall be the answer. I don't know if this adequately describes what I'm thinking here, but mainly I want to express the peace I have with Madrid and what has happened. Being an impressionable freshman throughout 9/11 had, in a way, prepared me for this, or at least given me a greater context. Even with that preparation and "experience" 11-M was not "easier" or anything, just easier in time to set in context.