When New York took that dreadful hit last week, we all felt the blow. This is true not only in the sense of emotional solidarity or of human empathy or even of the feelings of unity or patriotism which are unquestionably resurgent everywhere in America.
It is true because the consequences for New York will be replicated elsewhere to some degree. One example: At a time when, in Memphis and other urban communities, there has been a shift of both recreational and residential venues away from the suburbs and back toward city centers, the fear of being in high-profile zones could cause a partial or complete reversal of this flow.
It is true because some of the conveniences that we have previously taken for granted -- relatively cheap and trouble-free airplane travel, for instance -- will henceforth be encumbered with more complication and expense.
For Memphis, which has begun to enjoy a downtown revival and plans to begin building a new arena for the National Basketball Association's Grizzlies, these circumstances could not come at a worse time. If airline travel ends up being substantially reduced for the aforementioned reasons and because of a general diminishment of comfort and confidence factors, what will be the effect on the tourist trade on which so much of our downtown economy depends? Can we really pay for an arena which is leveraged so heavily on anticipated revenues from hotel and motel lodging and car rentals?
The answers to these and similar questions will be worked out in time. Meanwhile, it behooves us to consider the statement of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at a press conference this week. As we confront the new breed of international terrorists, Rumsfeld said we have two choices: "to change the way we live, which is unacceptable, or to change the way they live."
Whatever the full implications of that sentence turn out to be, Rumsfeld is right. We must respond so that our enemies are ultimately the ones to pay for the horrors of last week and for the state of war which will ensue. It is as unacceptable to hunker down in physical and emotional bunkers as it would be to abrogate our traditional freedoms or our tolerance for human diversity.
No one knows yet what is in store for us, but it is clear that our way out of the morass of gloom and uncertainty depends on our staying close to the guiding light of our traditions. And among those traditions is the one described by the Forefathers as "the pursuit of happiness." We must continue that pursuit, even as we track down our enemies and abort their cruel mission. They may choose to wrap themselves in the language and practice of repression; we cannot.
So it was all the fault of the A.C.L.U., the federal courts, the "abortionists," the feminists, and the gays and lesbians, was it? That was what Jerry Falwell, the apostle of soulless religiosity, said in the aftermath of last week's terrorist attacks. (We will spare you his reasoning.) As he felt the mantle of shame being draped around him, Mr. Falwell was at length prompted to apologize. He need not have bothered.
We always reckoned him as being sorry.