September 11, 2002

In the year since the terrorist attacks of last September 11th, many of us have repeatedly looked in the mirror to ask: What has changed? Shock and sadness remain with us, but there is also a determined sense that we face challenges - as individuals and as a civilization - that were unknown a year ago.

Even more unsettling, we recognize that America or another country may well be attacked by surprise once again, and are left wondering if such an event will match or exceed the horror of last year. We have all been hurt and are convinced that there are people who, having honed their malignant audacity to a sharp point, are now planning to hurt us again.

In memory, then, the Twin Towers still stand tall, still cast a shadow into our lives. What happened to them was unimaginable until, through deliberate action, it became real. Against all expectation, and contrary to our wishes, this violence has put us in front of choices we had not seen before.

In many ways, this is the story of the 20th century. Violence and brutality that were once beyond the realm of possibility now seem commonplace. Adapting to the latest horror, we conclude - repeatedly, and despite all evidence to the contrary - that we have at last seen all that there is to see. But then we are shocked into recognizing that our imagination failed us - there was worse to come.