After the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist disaster, I excerpt a passage below that the anniversary called up in my mind from my novel that is due out this fall, The Sausage Maker’s Daughters. Though the speaker is an antiwar activist during the Sixties’ Vietnam period, her disheartening experience with violence only begetting violence seems appropriate to today’s wars and all that has happened since 9/11/01. Please let me know if you agree.
The setting is Bascom Hill, the center of campus at the University of Wisconsin in Madison in the late Sixties. A protest demonstration has turned violent when the authorities attempted to suppress the gathering. Our young, idealistic speaker steps up to address the crowd.
“”A strange thing happened when I faced thousands of expectant students spilling down the Hill. In the background, the illuminated dome of the state capitol mystically hovered over the storm cloud of breath rising above the gathering. The fear and anger I saw in students’ eyes inexplicably caused mine to dissipate like the vapor they created. I was left with unexpected sadness. When I spoke, it was quietly, about renewed commitment to nonviolent change.
“How tragic,” I began, “that threats and violence speak louder and more influentially than nonviolent words and actions. Is this humanity’s shared truth, our shared burden? Will we never learn to talk, to exchange viewpoints peacefully, before it’s too late? Could we, the leaders of tomorrow, begin a new chapter by writing a peaceful page in history today?”
I’d lost them, the whole crowd. I sensed it in the sudden quiet. Their outrage required an object and I wasn’t up to supplying one. The subdued crowd clapped politely for me when I relinquished the mic and stepped down. Here and there I caught an expression that might indicate someone thinking instead of thirsting for action. But I’d disappointed them, no question. A fiery young comrade of mine, followed by several black speakers, soon reenergized the rally, but failed to reenergize me.”“