That was the title of The Economist’s leader for last week. By now, numerous articles must have been written, magazines and books produced, tons of paper used for their printing, endless emails exchanged across countries and continents, even more endless discussions in all media, airports and stock markets closed and re-opened, and so on. World leaders, politicians, journalists, commentators, strategists, anybody who is anybody, and many more have spoken. It was war on America, the free world, and humanity.
From now on, many would remember for as long as they shall live those vivid, horrid, seemingly unreal, unbelievable, unspeakable, unthinkable and indescribable images. They would remember what they were doing at the time, just as most of us who are old enough would remember what we were doing when we first heard the news that John Kennedy was shot on that fatal date in 1963.
Many people have alluded to what happened six decades ago in Pearl Harbour which led to a changed America and hence a changed world. Still more people have highlighted the differences in terms of the protagonists involved or the lack of their identity, the targets under attack, the atrocities and the casualties.
Most of the people in Hong Kong would have relations or friends, or friends of relations or friends, or somebody they know, or somebody who knows somebody who were close or close enough to the event and must have spent agonizing moments waiting for news of or waiting to get through to those near and dear to them.
The day passed. No doubt the world has changed. America has been attacked and is preparing for war. One can ask many related questions and even attempt to answer them, but I am not going to go through the exercise here. At such time, leadership is vital to unite communities, to reinforce values and to practise rather than preach humanity. We call ourselves leaders. Rotarians are all leaders. As the reality begins to sink in and life returns to normal, it is time for leaders to show their mettle. Let us hope that the day has changed the world for the better, that people will learn to treasure what they have instead of moaning for what they have not, that they would learn to forgive as our Father in Heaven has forgiven them, and that they would work together for peace and international understanding.
Talk to you again next week.