Maio explains council resolution

Linda Maio
Sunday October 28, 2001


We all seek peace, for ourselves, our families, our nation, and indeed, the world. Our nation is engaged in a national debate on how we achieve that peace. The City Council resolution asks that we work to break the cycle of violence and urges that we make an investment in our security, in achieving peace.  

The loss of innocent lives at the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon, and in the destroyed aircraft is a horrifying shock to people throughout the world. Our hearts go out to the victims, to their families, and to their friends, who have suffered so deeply. We are a nation in mourning.  

We need to ask how the perpetrators could have reached such levels of hatred and frustration. The explanation that they are brainwashed by a perverted leader who holds seemingly magical power over them has to be a dangerous simplification. Such anger can only have been constructed over time, through a combination of historical events resulting in a deep sense of threat and sustained exclusion. Our nation’s response has everything to do with whether we reinforce this alienation and thus provide the soil, seeds, and nutrients for future cycles of revenge and violence. Or whether it changes. 

Our enemies believe they are fighting an evil system that wishes to eradicate them and their people. We need to destroy this myth, not their people. Military action that attacks already vulnerable civilian populations will sow more hatred, confirming those who regard us as evil and nurturing yet another generation of recruits prepared to attack us at all cost.  

Monumental times require monumental change. Now is the time for a different, an unexpected, response from the United States. Countries like Pakistan, Tajikistan, and yes, Iran and Syria should be approached by the West, and especially by the United States, with a question of strategic importance: How can we help you meet the fundamental needs of your people? The single greatest pressure we can put on our enemies now is to remove the justification for their “holy” war. We can overcome terror by making it irrelevant. Let’s do exactly what our enemies do not expect. Let’s seek justice, of course, but at the same time work vigorously to create a different future, one that does not breed hatred and make the world unsafe for Americans everywhere. 

Our global challenge is how to engage others effectively to ensure a new kind of future, a future based on the life-affirming ethics that are present in every cultural tradition. Our challenge is to engage with people everywhere, deeply respecting their own traditions and religious beliefs, to help them meet their own fundamental needs. Such an effort will bequeath to the generation of our children’s children a legacy far more secure than could result from any amount of military might. The current situation poses an unprecedented opportunity for this to happen. Let us have the wisdom and strength to rise to it, to seize the opportunity to construct a better future for ourselves and, indeed, the world. 

We need to respond to well-organized, decentralized, self-perpetuating sources of terror by thinking and acting differently. Our enemies are now counting on us to strike back, harm the innocent, and create more desperate and lasting rage. Let us not fulfill their prophecy by providing them with the martyrs and justifications they need. They changed the face of war. They entered our lives by turning our own tools against us. We will not win peace, justice, or security with the traditional weapons of war. We need to change the terms of engagement.  


Linda Maio 

city councilmember 

with help from John Paul Lederach