Americans are still struggling to recapture the skies, even as they follow news of military action in Afghanistan. Some airlines are attracting passengers with reduced prices, and airport officials are reassuring citizens with promises of heightened security. Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Julia King thinks that both on the ground and in the air, maybe our nation’s best weapon is one the naked eye can’t see:
Americans are still struggling to recapture the skies, even as they follow news of military action in Afghanistan. Some airlines are attracting passengers with reduced prices and airport officials are reassuring citizens with promises of heightened security. Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator, Julia King, thinks that both on the ground and in the air, maybe our nation’s best weapon is one the naked eye can’t see.
My 61-year-old peace activist mother is ready to fight. She called me the day before her first post-Sept. 11th air travel and announced her intentions to battle any would-be hijackers.
“I’ll be one of the people who charge them,” she said. “I would hope that my adrenaline would be pumping and maybe I wouldn’t even feel it if I was stabbed.”
She wasn’t joking; she has enlisted in the war against terrorism — and her resolve shouldn’t be underestimated. Nor should we underestimate the power of similar declarations made by millions of other Americans just like my mother. They are all part of a vast, hidden arsenal: everyday people with a plan to resist. They aren’t militia types, and although gun sales are reportedly up, many of our newest “soldiers” would never even consider purchasing a weapon.
There is something oddly reassuring about the image of grandparents taking on terrorists — gray-haired ladies sitting quietly beneath the radar until the last minute when they storm out of hiding and thwart the evildoers. It’s a scene right out of a B movie, one that until recently would have left all but the most fanciful of us rolling our eyes in disbelief.
But that was before the plane went down off-target in Pennsylvania at the hands of heroic passengers. That was before a nation spent countless midnight hours concocting scenarios in which they were up there.
“What would I have done,” we have all asked ourselves by now. “What will I do?” My mother’s answer (“I’ll charge!”) is a good one, one that both offers comfort and fulfills some primal need to maintain control in the face of chaos. What makes it so poignant is that many of the new enlistees of this war do not, as a habit, raise their fists in anger. And even now, it’s not anger that motivates them, but rather a sacred sense of human duty to minimize harm to others.
We can search everyone who gets on a plane, lock cockpit doors, arm pilots, but in the end, this war may be fought and won by 61-year-old peace activists and skinny guys with glasses – just ordinary people who are willing to do extraordinary things.