“An eye for an eye and the world would be blind. God knows we need vision. Violence never ever eradicates violence,” Reverend Anne Howard, associate rector of the Trinity Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara, said at a panel discussion Tuesday night in Campbell Hall.
Howard was one of five speakers at last night’s panel, the third in a series of panels entitled “Thinking Through the Catastrophe,” sponsored by the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center. Other panel members included Executive Director of UCSB Hillel Rabbi Stephen Cohen; Father Virgil Cordano, former pastor of the Santa Barbara Mission; UCSB English Professor Giles Gunn and Helal Omeira, executive director of the Northern California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“These panels could not be any more timely,” Chancellor Henry Yang said. “It is hard to not feel overwhelmed.”
The speakers agreed that both citizens and the federal government should think carefully about future actions and their ramifications in response to the terrorist attacks on September 11. Howard said force could sometimes achieve a worldly goal, yet “violence never ends violence.”
Cordano said an established interfaith dialogue would lead to a deeper understanding of the situation at hand – that through education and communication, the feelings and thoughts about the past events would become clearer.
Cohen said the American public should try to distinguish between vengeance and justice when thinking about an appropriate reaction to the attacks, and that the conflict would end only when people seek something other than vengeance.
“The common lesson here is the road to vengeance leads to more destruction and pain,” he said.
Gunn said the American people are ignorant of the political situation in Afghanistan.
Howard said Americans should “make patriotism a noble enterprise, not about being first and biggest but a love for the country – to be able to grieve, and not wipe our tears away with a flag.”
Omeira was concerned about recent treatment of American Muslims.
“There are about 6 to 7 million Muslims living in the U.S. It is not fair to be linked to the terrorist acts simply because of religion,” she said. “What needs to be done is to remove the Islamic and Muslim when speaking about the terrorists. Religious affiliation doesn’t serve any purpose.”
Three more panels are planned for the rest of the month, including “Women and War” at 5 p.m. next Tuesday. Last night’s discussion will be broadcast on channel 21 tonight from 7 to 9 p.m.