From the Editor

Why do they hate us so much?

Editor Michael Sherer

Editor Michael Sherer

The September 11 terrorist attacks raise some troubling questions

During the week of anguish following the infamous events of September 11, the media gave us an overload of news, analysis, and speculation. There was not a lot of soul-searching that I could identify in the verbal and pictorial barrage, but there were some moments where searing questions were asked.

Lynn Neary, who often reports on faith and religion issues for National Public Radio, went to a public school where she spoke with children about their feelings and responses to the terrible events, what they’d heard from the news and from their parents, and what they’d seen on television.

“Are you frightened now?” she asked. Most of the children were candid. They admitted they were really scared.
Then Neary asked the children, “What do you most wonder about right now?”

One boy, perhaps ten years old, speaking in the most transparent voice I’ve ever heard, said, “I know the people flying the airplanes were willing to die in order to do all the damage and killing they did. And that makes me wonder, if they were willing to do that, then why do they hate us so much?”

To her credit, Neary didn’t try answering the young man’s question. But as time goes by, and our passions settle (and we begin to overcome what one churchman called “the war fever in our blood”), we need to ask the same question.

Why are people ready to die in order to do spectacular damage and harm to Americans? Why do they hate us so much?

I learned a long time ago not to try reading the minds of dead people. Concerning those who flew the suicide flights, there is no way to get a direct answer. (Accomplices may be apprehended, or may come forward, or may simply brag to the international media, about their motives, but that may also not happen.)

We can never justify terrorist activity. But we should ask ourselves: Why do some people hate us so much? And a second question is like unto the first: Do the haters have any justification for feeling as they do?