Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering 9/11

The odd things that one remembers. On September 11, 2001, after taking in the news early in the morning I went to work as usual.  I parked my car and walking past Los Angeles Central Juvenile Hall on the way to the office, I encountered a parent and child headed away from the building.  Looking relieved, they told me the courts were closed.  Their judgement day, maybe their own family tragedy, had been postponed by our national tragedy. Mostly what I remember though, is that our Amnesty International chapter had a letter-writing meeting that evening.  Because Caltech closed its campus, regretably, we had to cancel it.  Some of us obeyed the instinct to be in community anyway and gathered at our favorite discussion spot, Vroman's bookstore, to debrief the day's events over coffee, but I think we would have felt even better if we had been writing.  For this reason, I think I will always associate 9/11 with Amnesty letter-writing. 

Sometime later, I observed that even though many felt the world changed on that day, for our then prisoner of conscience case, a Tibetan monk, nothing changed at all.  He was still in prison and the shift in geopolitics wasn't going to affect him.  We still needed to make sure he wasn't a "forgotten prisoner."  Now we have adopted a different prisoner of conscience case, Eritrean Estifanos Seyoum.  In his case, the world did change that week, but not in a way that the rest of us noticed.  He was arrested on September 18, 2001 and although never officially charged or brought to trial and he has been held incommunicado since that time. We still need to make sure he isn't forgotten. I still want to obey that instinct to connect with a wounded world and offer some small token of healing.  I can't think of anything better to do today then take action on Estifanos Seyoum's case and visit Amnesty International's Action Center for more letters to write.

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