In grief and anger we joined most of the world in condemning the atrocities of September 11, 2001. Those crimes against humanity will stand as a reminder to all reasonable people that terror as a tactic of political struggle is both morally wrong & politically counterproductive. Their perpetrators must be apprehended by means of a cooperative & determined international police effort, & brought to justice in an international court of law.
The broad context for those terrible events is the growing gap between the world's "haves" & "have nots," & the unending spiral downward into a universal state of armed violence. Since the end of World War II, these twin processes have increasingly destroyed human life, & undermined the quality of human life, in virtually every country on earth. Chronic violence & inequity sustain bitter political conflicts; & most countries lack effective, secular democratic procedures for resolving such conflicts.
One result is that in recent years the world's bruised & silenced peoples have increasingly turned in desperation to authoritarian, repressive, often misogynistic & warlike religious fundamentalisms (Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu or Buddhist) in their search for a politics of hope.
We Americans are not to be blamed for all of these alarming developments. There is plenty of locally generated violence, greed & corruption everywhere. But the painful truth is that American foreign policy has played a large part during the past half-century, in fueling & exacerbating the growing inequity & chronic violence that now poison the world. Americans have even benefited materially from them. Now it is up to us to help stop them.
War offers no solution to the problems that confront us. On the contrary, it multiplies those problems. War cannot provide real security to our people or any other. It may sometimes feel like a solution, at times of personal or patriotic outrage; sometimes, sad to say, it is even good for business. But over the long term, the habit of making war will deny most people, & our children & grandchildren, the opportunity we all crave to live in peace, good health & prosperity.
As educators we stand in principled opposition to war - and in particular to the present prospect of a war without end against an undefinable enemy. As Americans we have learned from our own country's failed and costly "war on drugs" that the most serious problems of our time do not lend themselves to military solutions.
The ignorance of Americans is legendary with regard to foreign languages & cultures, world history, geography & current events -- despite the presence in our midst of many millions of immigrants & refugees from all over the world. Our political leaders are not much more knowledgeable than the public at large. We are as well known abroad for our ignorance as we are for our wealth & our freedoms, our excessive consumption & waste, & our obsession with guns & violence.
Ignorance combined with the tools of war & the arrogance of power is as dangerous to Americans as it is to the rest of the human race. As educators, we see an urgent need to help our people & our leaders find ways of broadening America's understanding of the world. We want to help prepare the new generation of Americans more carefully than we ourselves were prepared, for taking up & exercising the constructive & responsible, unassuming world citizenship that is required by a world politics & a global economy.
In this frightening time of war & national crisis, confronted once again with the display of our country's awesome military might, we accept our responsibility as citizens & educators to keep ourselves well informed about fast-developing national & world affairs, & to maintain our critical independence of mind in the face of pressures for conformity.
At the same time, we pledge ourselves: