Our response to human horror and tragedy moves inexorably outward as if through concentric circles, beginning in the gut and the heart, moving to the head, and finally taking shape in the form of shared social responses.
At noon on September 11 the chapel of the Interchurch Center at 475 Riverside Drive was filled with people who didn’t know the fate of loved ones, and people who could not get home, as Manhattan was sealed off.
Next to the minaret of Milwaukee’s Islamic Society a new sign appeared after the horrific events of September 11: “Our Hearts and Prayers Are with the Victims and Their Families.” That message was emphasized at the mosque’s prayer service on September 14, the national day of remembrance for all those who have suffered as a result of September 11’s terrorist attacks
These past days the church has been open. People have come flowing in bearing pictures of “the disappeared,” sent by St. Vincent’s Hospital two blocks away, where the chapel was overwhelmed and the need had become too taxing for a staff readying for the arrival of the victims—victims who never came in anything like the expected numbers.
I worked my first full-time summer job at a glue factory when I was 18 years old. Most of the other guys carpooled to work from the inner city. I came from a suburb up the hill and a good ways up the socioeconomic scale. I did not know when I first punched the clock that I was enrolling in a course more important than any I would soon take in college.