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Sunday, December 10, 2023
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

In a Perfect World

In a perfect world, there would be convincing answers to even the most challenging questions. Something inhumane has happened, and days after, we are still trying to find answers. The sheer scope and scale of it has allowed us, for the time being, to avoid the question of "Why" and address the issues of "How" and "What."

"What has happened? How did it happen?" We've been looking for information, facts, numbers. What we have found so far, is chilling. The sense of loss is tangible, almost as if loss itself as an emotional state is something we could touch. It's clear that things will not be the same for a long time. There's no way to erase or forget. It's with us, even though it shouldn't be. In a perfect world, there would be no death.

Given that, we're now trying desperately to find answers to the more difficult questions, "Why has this happened? How could someone do this? What should we do?" We're looking for reasons, motives and targets. Indeed, something inhumane has happened. We can only react to what has happened, as humans do. We unite, we mourn the loss of those who died in innocence and we honor those who struggle to rescue and preserve life.

But as humans, we need more. We need a sense of order, of balance to compensate for the wrong we see. We need to find those responsible. We cannot let this act stand. We need to find those people responsible and bring them before us. We need them to pay, with their lives, for the pain they've caused so many innocent people. They need to suffer the same pain that they inflicted. In a perfect world, justice would prevail.

I fear though for many, justice simply will not be enough. People I've talked to have said that finding those responsible, and bringing them to trial won't satisfy our loss. They want us to show, as a people that this will not stand. They want to make an example of someone. Anyone. And show that the wrath of America is strong. An example so great, that no one will ever dare to challenge us again.

We have demonstrated our wrath in the past. We have made examples before. None of them prevented what happened on Tuesday. Justice is something that is difficult to live with. People by nature are selfish and petty. We value certain things greater than other things, we value certain people greater than others. What makes America great is that we do not live by human nature. We live by order. By laws and justice. It is difficult, and sometimes justice hampers what we really want. And it is tested. And it will always be tested, like it's tested now. We have two clear choices. One is justice, the other is revenge.

In the coming days and months we might see revenge on a massive scale. With the loss of many more innocent lives, but it will be far away from here. And as long as it's far away from here, it will be all right. Somewhere far away from here, the loss we saw Tuesday, has happened, and will happen every day.

It's even happening here. Violence and revenge, misdirected towards our own people. There are Americans who are being attacked, all over this country, because of where they came from, the way they look, and the way they practice their religion. They are as American as anyone else. They are affected by this no different than anyone else. But they are being treated differently. The term "second class citizen" has been something I've heard often recently by those who fear this type of treatment.

In America, we are all equal. In America there is freedom for everyone. A freedom which was attacked on Tuesday, and a freedom which is being lost with every passing day. It's the freedom to live, the freedom from fear. There are many of us who are afraid of what's to come. There are many who are afraid of how they will be treated. In a perfect world, I would not be afraid.



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