catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 1, Num 1 :: 2002.09.13 — 2002.09.26


Radical gathering

I was pulling ragweed out of our parkway when my husband called with the news of the plane crashes.

For the next three days, I found myself immersed in images of destruction, tales of deathly heroicism, and false reports of rescue. At this point, I’m not ready to face the tragedy again. I turn off the radio when a memorial poem is read. I skip the special stories in the newspaper about how workdays at the Sears Tower have changed. Remembering the pain and the horror of the event does not help me face my greatest fear since September 11.

As the reality of the attacks settled on me during the days following, when our world suddenly stopped and then dutifully started moving once again, my greatest fear was not for my own safety, but that nothing would change for the better. We were quick to display our flags, quick to sing God Bless America, and quick to miss one of the most important lessons. We live in a world that is increasingly connected through global technology, but pathetically disconnected when it comes to knowing the names of our nearest neighbors and I myself am horribly guilty. I find that not knowing my neighbors makes it easy for me to hate them when their dog barks at two in the morning, just like it is easy for us as a nation to attack and hate those we don’t fully understand.

And that is why we felt that an appropriate tribute to September 11, 2001 (without reliving or trivializing what happened) would be to relaunch *cino with an issue about community. Our feature details the day to day life of two families who share a house. Jeff De Vries’ short story, “The Ties that Bind,” shows us the damage that can be done when we put our desires above the best interests of others. “Some Say the Midwest is Dying” is a thoughtful analysis of change in community. All of these articles promote principles that fundamentally challenge the terrorist mindset. Courage opposes cowardice, servanthood opposes selfishness, unconditional love opposes unconditional hatred. We are trying to fight the good fight using radical, subversive methods and words instead of weapons.

As we go forward with the site, we are committed to publishing a new issue every two weeks, which addresses a specific topic. Some of the articles or artwork you may have seen before because we are republishing pieces under appropriate topics. If you’ve been visiting us for a while, don’t worry, there will be plenty of new content in addition to what is republished. Our goal with each new issue is to tackle a particular topic from a number of angles — through storytelling, statistics, bible study, scholarly discussion, music, and artwork. We want to explore the theoretical sides of each topic, but we also want to explore the practical implications of what we learn.

Our challenge to you over the next two weeks is to evaluate what we’ve published on the topic of community and look for ways to apply some bit of information to your daily life, whether you find that revelation in an article or gallery piece, on the discussion board, on the network, or through the bible study. And then we ask that you share what you’ve discovered by writing an article, poem or story; posting on the discussion board; or simply telling your next door neighbor. As human beings, our constant quest for truth reflects the conviction that there is truth and sharing each discovery reflects the hope that the truth will somehow make the future better for ourselves and others.

I like to think it was a practical hope for the future that inspired one of my favorite responses to September 11. A woman living in a high rise apartment building in the Chicago Loop was stunned by reports that several of the hijackers were living in the U.S., unknown to any of their neighbors. In response, she invited all of the people on her floor to come to her apartment for tea and conversation. Hers was a simple act that speaks quietly but firmly of the need for community now more than ever. And her willingness to go from thought to action is a lesson for all of us in creativity, courage and hope.

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