the 21st Century
On September 11, 2001, 19 terrorists hijacked four fuel-laden civilian aircraft and crashed two of them into the World Trade Center in New York City and a third into the Pentagon just outside Washington, DC, killing all on board and thousands more on the ground. The fourth hijacked plane crashed in the Pennsylvania countryside, again killing all on board. Not just Americans were killed, but people from dozens of countries. Americans and people all over the world were simultaneously fearful, hurt, confused, and enraged by this act of murderous violence. Calls went out for justice and revenge. People debated what caused the attack and what were the best means by which to deal with such naked violence. Should the United States and its allies lash out in violent response and bomb the suspected perpetrators wherever they were thought to be? Should such action take into consideration the likely death of innocent civilians? Would such violent retaliation even produce the desired outcome? Would it produce more suicide bombers? Would abstaining from violent reprisals produce the desired goals? Would abstention invite more attacks?
This terrorist event presents a clear challenge to the legacies of Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. They lived and died using nonviolent means to achieve justice, yet at the dawn of the 21st century and against the backdrop of the worst terrorist attack on the United States in its history, is there anything from Gandhi's and King's lives and works that can inform us about how to deal with the problems of modern-day civilization? Did they bequeath