|A time to mourn, a time to heal|
Terrorism has been with us for as long as the human race. Because for thousands of years our ancestors have been fighting each other in small bands — they have been trying to scare the other tribes into fleeing. If we can get them to run away, maybe we can take over their caves! So how do we scare them? Maybe throw some fire into their caves! And these scare tactics, of course, have been used by armies, and civilian populations have been murdered quite often just to make sure that civilians weren’t contributing to war efforts. If a village is found to be supporting enemy soldiers in any way — Wipe The Village Out!
In a sense, bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki were acts of terrorism. Those were not military targets. Why couldn’t they have dropped the bombs on military targets? No! We have to scare the Japanese into surrender!
I think we should recognise that the United States and the US Army have been involved in terrorism for a long time. In these modern times, there is more terrorism than ever. And the human race is realising more than ever that war has to be stopped if the human race is to survive.
I am optimistic — I think we have a fifty-fifty chance to be here, to survive. I may be fooling myself. You know, many scientists give it less than a fifty-fifty chance. I have often been told that I am too optimistic. But I believe there is a fifty-fifty chance of the human race’s survival because terrorism is now teaching people that war has got to be stopped, and peace-loving people are getting together like never before.
All over the United States, peace-loving people have been speaking out. I was walking down 42nd street in the heart of New York City and a restaurant had given over an entire window to statements about the bombing of September 11, five days earlier. All the statements were written on little white cards, about four inches by five inches in size, and on a folding table on the sidewalk next to the window were a box of cards and some broad-tipped felt pens, so that whatever people wrote down could be read easily from a distance — pasted up on the inside of the plate-glass window, safe from rain. And there was a sign saying: "Write what is on your mind. We will not censor you!" There were hundreds and thousands of such cards in this window, nine feet tall and twenty feet wide. And it only had space for about another thousand cards. There were several thousand cards there and I would say that sixty per cent of them said: we must have peace. Charging into war is not the way to solve this problem. What bin Laden has done may be an act of war, they were saying, but we must have peace.
Not that they were going to run away, but they were going to find out why bin Laden was so furious. Now, maybe 20 per cent or so said: if it’s war, we’d better prepare for it. But they were in the minority. And the person pasting up the cards must have had a sense of humour, because one card had just two words: "Nuke ’Em!" In other words, "Bomb them all!" And right above those two words was the peace sign from the anti-nuclear campaign of the early 1960s. So these two cards were right next to each other.
Everybody in the world should be a censor. We could have 6 billion censors, but no one should try to censor anybody else. We should learn to censor ourselves. When I sing, I don’t try to make people angry, I try and find a way. I can state my opinion in a humorous way, or a musical way, so people will have to listen to me. Sometimes songs, even long songs, can be unforgettable. Bob Dylan wrote some very long songs, but they were extraordinary — and my grandson and I sometimes sing these long songs. Like A hard rain’s gonna fall.
Pete Seeger needs no introduction. At 82, he is still singing with his grandson.
He lives in Beacon, New York state