My fear had been growing, so for once I was glad when the boys went over to my X2B's; silent paranoia (did you know it was the terrorists who brought West Nile Virus? but he'd never say anything to the kids) is probably better than the dread I was failing to contain. So I went out Friday night to escape the news which I couldn't turn off, and kind of see how the Day of Mourning was being observed around Charlottesville.
After a couple of Irish whiskies I wandered back up the Downtown Mall to where there would normally have been a Zydeco band for this week's Fridays After Five, and came upon a rather impromptu-looking candlelight vigil. There were boxes and boxes of candles around with a note saying Take one if you need one. Someone looked at me and said those exact words and I gave up trying not to weep, took one, and went and sat down next to a beautiful, big dog. I asked the guardian's permission and then sat there, leaking brain chemicals, patting the dog and being mightily comforted. There were groups of people, individuals, holding candles, some singing, many children playing in the amphitheater for poignant contrast. At one point as I sat there staring at my candle and trying not to wax my fingers some feet came over from a group that I think was the one that had been singing America the Beautiful. I just sat and got wetter, tears streaming down my face as they had been for most of the candle by then; eventually a knee appeared on the grass and a voice said If you need a hug, I've got an extra one… I turned and just let go, sobbing uninhibitedly for a while. Eventually I stopped actually sobbing, gave my Samaritan a hug back without ever looking up, and went back to quietly leaking brain chemicals. The dog's kind guardian then nudged the big animal back to me (whom I think had left for the noise), and let me pat the dog for a while longer. They stayed till I started looking around for kleenex and a second candle, a nice, nice pair.
There was a reporter there, taking some pictures apparently after getting the subjects' permissions, who never came anywhere near me. While I appreciated the respect, I kind of wish she'd have asked me what my story was. I think I'd have said something like this.
I am so afraid, so very afraid, of the harm our own government is about to inflict. They appear to be falling into the terrorists' trap, and allowing this (if not downright encouraging it) to become a holy war. This is not about people of one faith against (an)other(s), or at least we cannot allow it to become so just because the terrorists and their supporters want us to. This must remain between Us, the civilized humans who do not kill non-military others to make political points, and Them, the mass murderers who do just that. And "They" include anybody who lobs pipe bombs at children in Ireland, Israel, Palestine, Bosnia, Rwanda, Oklahoma City or anywhere else, or who murder doctors, or merely go out to their own neighborhood bars for an evening's [their terms] dago/fag/nigger/atheist/whatever bashing. We will become what we deplore if after falling into their trap, we then add insult to our own injury by using religion as an excuse to wage a war against some people for having a lunatic fringe which committed these latest, and most dreadful, deeds. We have our own lunatic fringes as does every cause.
So I reiterate that war is not the answer. I would like to see everybody put aside the hereafter and concentrate on the here and now. If all terrorist do not simply Down Tools and grow up, as has been said, let everyone everywhere rise up en masse and turn to whatever authorities there are. Let them denounce anybody whom they know knows anything about, or knows anybody who knows anything about, any plans to commit any of the above crimes against humans. Let all rise above the fear that comes from ignorance of what people with different names from your family are like. We'll get plenty of info if people would abandon false kith or kin loyalty to the people who inhabit all these fringes.
Then let them be tried under US law, which has the barbaric death penalty.