are all saddened and shaken by the recent terrorist attack
on our nation. It may seem there's nothing we can do to aid
in the response that our government is undertaking. We’ve
all been horrified by the pictures in the newspapers and on
T.V. of the destruction in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
But there are two things we can do. One is here at home,
where we live and work with people affected in various ways
by the attacks and by what is to come. And one is there, in
the places where those terrorists find support.
Our immediate action must be to make our home places safe
and welcome for all the people who share in our sorrow and
sadness. We must treat everyone, regardless of cultural background,
with the very same respect that we wish to have conferred
on us—the universal golden rule.
In addition to the pictures from New York and Washington,
DC, I’ve also been looking at pictures of the countries where
those terrorists come from and of the faces of the people
in those countries. These countries are desperately poor.
The people there are not benefiting from the trickle-down
of economic prosperity such as we enjoy in countries where
we have the capacity to offer everyone a decent education,
a job, and a quality environment.
When you see these pictures and get an idea of the abject
poverty, the grindingly bleak life, that people endure there,
you begin to understand why some people might become so desperate
that they lash out at a target of what they think oppresses
them, any target—even the wrong target.
It may seem that we’re helpless to do anything beyond support
of our government and care of the people we encounter. But
I believe this tragedy holds an opportunity for people in
the resource professions to reach out with their knowledge,
their technology, and their passion for improving the well-being
of people and our living world, in
a humanitarian effort that could accompany our military responses
to these terrorist acts.
I know this would not be an easy job. It would be analogous
to fighting World War II and carrying out the Marshall Plan
at the same time. But Americans are not alone in either the
immediate task or the longer-term challenge of building a
safer, more equitable world for all people. We who study and
teach good stewardship of natural resources may find that
we have unprecedented opportunities to reach out, through
our research, teaching, and service, to help people in the
poorest parts of the world improve the quality of their lives.
In the end, addressing the root causes of terrorism, poverty
and alienation, in addition to its agents of destruction,
may be as important in creating the kind of world we want
for everyone as the immediate acts of retribution. It’s worth