A New Year's resolution
Jan. 1, 2002
The great thing about New Year's Day is the sense of shedding something old and donning something new, of trying to rid ourselves of the disagreeable, the regrettable, while resolving to do better on some matters, to start fresh where we need to. Our aims will ordinarily be individual.
But this year in America, for the first time in a long time, there should be and perhaps will be a collective aim on top of the individual ones. Our national purpose should be to rid the world of terrorism.
As ordinary citizens, how should we do that? Americans being Americans people quick with a joke for any and all occasions many are already quipping that if they do not indulge in this or that self-pleasing act, they figure the terrorists will win. That is not quite it. President Bush, in one of his post-Sept. 11 speeches, pointed the way. Getting back to normal is part of it, he said, and getting back to normal includes pleasurable activity. But the bigger part, he told us, is doing for others.
To the extent that free people chip in of their own accord to serve their communities and especially to help the least fortunate among us, we will grow stronger as a nation. And the stronger this nation is, the more effective it will be in waging its war on terrorism.
This war is necessary. Without it we will be forever at risk of catastrophic attack. The military action is morally justified in the same way that an individual is morally justified in using deadly force to stop a murderer trying to kill him. If we do not do it, some terrorist will someday find a way to slaughter tens or hundreds of thousands of our people, possibly millions.
A positive side of the war on terrorism, as Bush has also pointed out, is that it advances the cause of freedom. Afghanistan is a good example; the people there have the first real possibility of decent, tyranny-free lives in decades, owing to the ousting of the Taliban through U.S. bombing and the ground combat of Afghan forces.
Another positive side is that we Americans can do good for each other and come together as a nation more than at any time in the recent past. It is a resolution worth considering this New Year's Day.