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Wednesday, September 12, 2001

A message from the president after the tragedy in the US

I am moved and touched personally by the drama and the trauma of my American friends, in New York, Boston, Washington, all over the country and wherever they are in the world. I spent five years of my life in this great country, five of my best years. I have so many close friends there. I love America so much. How could I not feel the deepest sympathy? But there is more. President Kennedy once said: “I am a Berliner!” Today every peace-loving citizen of the world should say: “I am an American!”

The terrible news came to us when we were attending in London the Caux Round Table conference. I was amazed by the reactions of the Americans present, high representatives of the business and banking communities. Amidst the sorrow and pain, one after another they said in short that this tragedy is reinforcing their will to work, as they have been all along in the spirit of Caux, for a better world, a world where there will be less poverty, less inequality, less fanaticism and anger. In such a dramatic moment, this was for me a moving lesson, America at its best, a profoundly caring and human America!

How is it then that America can engender so much hatred and fanaticism in the world? To experience this must have been an additional trauma for the American people. They were never prepared by their media to understand this reality. Indeed this tragedy is another proof of the failure of the media in the world, and especially in the western world. Where have we been to try to understand and not to judge, to reach out and not to reject, to respect and not to condemn? Now we experience our suffering, but where have we been to understand the suffering of others? How can we be loved if we don’t love?

This drama shows again that we, people of the media, we have a long way to go, if we want to help get out of the escalation of hatred, fanaticism and barbaric behaviour. As we said in our “Sarajevo Commitment”: “we seek a world in which everyone cares enough and everyone shares enough so that everyone will have enough; a world in which the work and wealth of the world are available at the exploitation of none…we shall not cease to strive until every gun is silent, every injustice righted and every human being enabled to live a life of satisfaction and purpose”.

So, we should not answer hatred by hatred, violence by violence, fanaticism by fanaticism. What good it would make to pretend from one side or the other that God is with us and that the others are evil? This should be a time— particularly for us in the media— to try to understand and to see the human person, even in the terrorist acting in such a barbaric way, as difficult as that can be. This should be a time to reflect on the despair and the tragedy of so many people in the world. But this should not be a time to reject and condemn, and particularly not our Arabic and Moslem brothers and sisters.

We honour all the people who died on this tragic day. We share the pain of all the people who lost a family member or a friend, of all the American people. The best way to pay our tribute to them will be our renewed determination to do, in our media, whatever we can to help build “the civilization of love”, so that such dramas could never happen again.

Bernard Margueritte