by Former Marine Greg Nees
President George W. Bush
Dear Mr. President,
I am a former Marine Corps sergeant who served his country
well and was honorably discharged in 1970. I have never written such
a letter before and I pray that it will somehow get through the bureaucratic
filters to reach you. Like so many Americans, I was appalled and shocked
by the death and destruction we witnessed two days ago. I am now coming
out of my shock and am very concerned about the grievous state in which
our country and the world find themselves. We have suffered a horrible
attack and far too many of us have suffered and died. I am greatly saddened
and sickened by the carnage and suffering of the victims and their families.
I know you too are suffering and I can feel your anger and frustration
as well as your desire for active retaliation and I understand it well.
It is a natural and justifiable reaction to such a heinous criminal
And yet I would counsel you to proceed carefully. I fear
we are in a perilous situation and a mistake on our part could easily
widen the already huge spiral of violence in which the world finds itself.
Mr. President, you now have the great opportunity to prove to the world
that the United States is more than just a great economic and military
power to be feared. It is up to you to show all of the world that the
United States is also a law abiding and civilized country which can
be trusted to follow the laws of the world as well as let itself be
guided by the wisdom of human understanding and compassion.
I urge you to use all legal means at your disposal to
determine who perpetrated this horrible crime and to bring them to trial
before the appropriate court. Let them indeed find the justice the world
awaits and needs. But I beg you, let not one more innocent life - be
it American, Israeli, Palestinian or any other - be lost because of
this horrible crime. Too often our bombs and weapons have taken the
lives of innocent victims. I believe the military euphemism is "collateral
damage" but in reality it is manslaughter if not outright murder.
What right can we claim that allows us to take more innocent lives?
Is that not also a form of terrorism? Should we lower ourselves to the
level of those who attacked the World Trade Center or should we stand
tall and take the legal and moral high ground?
You have chosen to describe this as an act of evil. I
fear using such inflammatory language will only worsen the situation.
Such language will all too easily incite a lynch mob mentality, when
what we need is the compassion which Jesus taught as well as the cool
reason which will help us reach our true goals of global peace, prosperity
and democracy for all people of the world. Lead us, Mr. President, with
dignity and wisdom and do not pander to the primitive parts of our beings
that are all too powerfully calling out at this moment. Show the world
that you too are a leader with the greatness, strength and courage to
seek true understanding and restorative justice, just as Nelson Mandela
did in South Africa.
If we are to truly resolve the hatred and violence, we
need to understand that in their eyes, they see themselves as a tiny,
heroic David fighting against a huge, monstrous Goliath who seeks to
kill them and their way of life. We certainly need not agree with their
views, but we must understand them if we ever hope to achieve a lasting
peace and not a world that is locked down and bereft of all the civil
rights and freedoms we cherish so highly.
Months ago we saw magazine pictures of a young Palestinian
child being cradled for hours in the arms of his father. Innocently
caught in a gun battle the child died from bullet wounds and the father
could not move to save him. Can you begin to imagine the anguish, pain
and sense of injustice this father must have felt? As a father yourself,
how would you have felt in such a situation as the life oozed out of
your child and you were pinned down and absolutely helpless? It is such
intensely unbearable images and feelings that drive people to such desperate
measures as we witnessed on Wednesday in New York and Washington.
In this moment of deep crisis, is also a moment of immense
opportunity. I urge you to take this opportunity to move our world away
from violence and suffering and towards peace, freedom and abundance
for all. Let these voices of desperation be heard and let the perpetrators
have their day in court. Show them that we truly do believe in law and
justice for all. Let us not make the mistake we did recently at Durban,
but rather let us bring all voices to the table, even if they are screaming
and telling the stories we would like not to hear. We are truly a superpower
and we are too used to talking and expecting others to listen. Show
the world that we are also strong enough to learn to listen. I know
you are a Christian and I pray that you will indeed do what Jesus Christ
counseled and not rashly lash out in violence. May God give you the
wisdom to find the great opportunity for peace that lies in this horrible
tragedy. I hope that later in this century historians will look back
and applaud your greatness of spirit and cool sense of reason that moved
our globalizing world closer to justice and democracy for all.
Reprinted with permission
(contact information withheld by request of author)