All of my friends and relatives are tired of me saying this, but I'll say it again anyway, because it's even more important now.
In the weeks after September 11, 2001, I complained to everyone who would listen that we, the people of the US, missed a huge window of opportunity. In addition to responding to the attacks with strength and resolve, we should have started a national dialogue about who we are in the world. What do we do and what is our impact on the world - the good, the bad, and the ugly (thanks Clint). For what reasons are we looked up to? For what reasons are we hated? What affect does our affluence have on other people in the world? What affect does our education and technology have?
A national dialogue such as this needs to to be facilitated by a national leader. Unfortunately, we did not have that kind of leader in 2001, and we won't for the next four years either. So how do we start this dialogue? How do we involve the largest number and cross-section of citizens? Who will facilitate this discussion, and what actions can come out of it?
Great questions. I'll be thinking about how to answer them.
In the months after September 11, 2001 we had unprecedented sympathy and support from people throughout the world, and yet this incredible goodwill was squandered. Now the world will be watching with apprehension as the Bush administration launches its next four years. The half of our citizens who voted for Kerry need to find a voice and let the people of the world know that we, too, will be watching with apprehension - but - we also need to let them know that we will be fighting back in thoughtful and meaningful ways.
So let the talking continue....