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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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Posted Thu. Sept. 13, 2001 9:35 pm Tokyo time

Entry updated 5:55 am Friday, also with Blatherchat quotes added

Some good news....Congratulations to Jeff and Gail Kesner, who had a baby girl on Tuesday!!!

Air Canada still hasn't returned Jeff's call from a few days ago. We do have a flight booked, but apparently Air Canada is only opening a limited international flight service, gradually ramping up (we've also heard a rumour that it's supposed to take -weeks- to get back to a normal flight schedule). We're still not confident our Sunday flight won't be cancelled and are wondering if we should (1) rebook for later in the week? (2) cancel completely and fly home via another airline? (3) give up the idea of flying home this week completely, cancel (rather than waiting around only to be told again our flight is cancelled) and go elsewhere for a while? There's no obvious solution, so we're waiting until tomorrow to see if there's more news.

[Update: We've decided to gamble on the Sunday flight (i.e. not try to change it). We talked to my dad last night, who talked to Nissin Travel.]

Jeff and I went to the Tokyo National Museum. Interesting exhibit, but our heart really isn't into sightseeing right now (all photos today were taken during our visit/walk). We're still pretty shaken by the events of the past 48 hours in the U.S. Some may think this overreacting; we're Canadian, not American, after all, and we're not even in North America right now.

For me, at least, it's hard to say exactly why I am reacting so emotionally. It's partly the devastating loss of life; I still have trouble watching that constantly-rerun clip of the planes crashing into the WTC towers, knowing that instant seals the fate of thousands of innocent civilians. It's partly the fact that I realize how naive I have been up to now...I would never have imagined that something like this could ever happen, that men armed with box cutters could hijack planes and successfully fly these planes into such high profile landmarks/symbols such as the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

I can't help but think that anyone who has ever suddenly lost a loved one will be affected slightly differently by recent events than those who haven't. I was devastated when my brother and his wife were killed in a car accident; there was nothing that could have prepared me. I cannot -imagine- what it would be like to know that someone caused their deaths intentionally. And having to explain that to their children, if they had had any.

One of the most heartbreaking clips I saw on CNN today was very brief, of an interview with a woman who had lost her husband in the attack. She said that she explained to her young children that their father was in heaven. She said her children cried, but then asked if they could still call Daddy on his cellphone, obviously not yet able to truly understand the scope of what had happened.

Things I'm very angry about:

- Publicly available clips and photographs of the people jumping from the WTC towers. There has been at least one close-up of a man jumping from a window published in a newspaper. This absolutely and completely reprehensible for so many reasons I can't begin to list them all.

- Hearing that Muslim Americans and Canadians (including children) are being harassed. My dad told me that in Oakville, Ontario, a mosque was firebombed, and that Muslim young people were assaulted by their classmates. I saw a U.S. Muslim woman being interviewed; she was obviously trying not to cry, saying that she didn't understand, that she was American. WHAT IN GOD'S NAME IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE? Again, I feel incredibly naive...I had assumed that people were more enlightened in this age.

But most of all, I am deeply saddened by the knowledge that for many people, no matter what response to the attacks, the world has irrevocably changed for the worse, and that the resulting tally of damage of this incident is far from being final.

Dave Weingart's comment:

"Debbie, what you said. Double, redoubled and in spades.

I find it absolutely rephrehensible that ANYONE is blaming Muslims for this (my goodness! Should we blame all the Christians for Oklahoma City next?). A group of evil, twisted people perpetrated this horror, and they (and they alone) are the ones who should and do bear the blame."

Rick Hewett's comment:

"I've had friends and family close to past terrorist acts, most recently the Nairobi bomb and the London Baltic Exchange bomb. Neither on the same scale as Tuesday's events, but both much closer to home for me. I well remember the sick worry I felt until I knew they were all safe then, and the power of the grief I felt when my father died earlier this year is fresh in my mind. I've drawn on those memories to try to understand the reactions that're being reported, but it isn't always easy...

It seems to me that many will regret later what they're saying and doing now, but in the fire of fresh grief it can be real hard to think. It's easy to wish that another had died in place of your own; to throw blame at the nearest target; to react without thinking things through. I guess it's not much of a twist from there to hating a survivor, and the net makes it all too easy to lash out from your keyboard immediately.

And somehow, in any situation, there always seems to be somebody who can see it completely backwards, upside-down and inside-out..."

From Steve Brinich:

"One of my mailing lists mentions a first-hand account from a survivor who made it out from the 89th floor of WTC 1. It was briefly posted on the Web. Now, in its place is a message explaining that the author had it taken down because she was getting hate messages from people angry that she had made it out alive.

As Sam Adams said in another context, "May posterity forget that ye were our countrymen". I wish to hell that I could...."

On a more positive note, it's been wonderful to see so many people united in their support of the U.S., offering support to the victims.

Here's a Blatherchat posting from Janet that also gives me hope:

"It's good to see some reports about people pulling together. Here's one on our wonderful neighbors to the north who had to cope with our diverted planes.. Thank you Canada -- we don't appreciate you enough! I also heard that Oklahoma passengers stranded in Dallas were putting together carpools of perfect strangers to get back home. Our student newspaper here is full of calls to treat our Islamic students right, and remember they may have lost friends or family in these attacks, too."

And finally, I'd like to share a poem written by Seanan (thanks to Seanan for the permission to reprint her poem here):

Triolets - by Seanan McGuire

Join hands across a continent

And dream a dream of home

And all the things it represents...

Join hands across a continent.

With this small comfort, be content:

You never stand alone.

Join hands across a continent

And dream a dream of home.

Take some small comfort, if you can,

In knowing we are near

With open hearts and loving hands.

Take some small comfort, if you can

In knowing someone understands

And we are always here.

Take some small comfort, if you can,

In knowing we are near.

Today's Poll:

Have recent events affected your attitude towards future air travel use? (i.e. will you be more hesitant about air travel)

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