Acting decently and continuing to live as we've always lived are the best acts of revenge in response to recent terrorism; our redesign debuts but will take some time to refine.
There was this shared community of grief, but also a noxious paranoia. Everyone together in the community, everyone alone in their car, listening to a different radio station, desperately trying to digest the news. The most familiar things felt foreign. The vision of the jet on that beautifully clear New York City morning slamming into the building changed the tone of the landscape here in Texas. The day was just as eerie. We went about putting out the paper. Even more than that, we continued to work on this issue's redesign, which will probably take weeks to fine-tune.
A lot of people have said that from now on, everything will change. Sadly, they are probably right. But how things change is something you and I are going to decide.
The truth is in the day-to-day. This is a monstrous act, an insult to common decency, an unforgivable pornography of political/religious self-indulgence. But the truth is, things go on. The country is too strong to let this stake, even though it was hurled at our heart, slow us down. The act of revenge is to continue living as we've always lived. The most decent response is not to change. Courage is in moving forward, in spending a little more time loving the family, appreciating friends, celebrating community. Get in a car, drive through the neighborhoods: Young mothers are pushing strollers, bikers are headed to the university, kids are playing, people are getting into their cars. This is the resistance. This is the declaration of common human decency. We will continue, we will improve.
The past couple of centuries have been a time of stunning improvement. Human intelligence turned toward truly integrating the community of man after many thousands of years of basic tribalism. Stop whining about how little progress we've made in race relations and social justice and look at how much. This was mind over biological instinct, reasoned morality over instinctive paranoia. People believed the community of man should co-exist peacefully and then worked to make it happen. People believed that all races, both sexes, and all religions should live together in an integrated society and then worked to make that happen. There is a long way yet to go -- a long, long way -- but that doesn't minimalize how impressive the achievement has been. Any step backward, no matter how small, is a victory for terrorism and a defeat for our shared community.
There is nothing much more that I feel it is appropriate to write here. No platitudes or even compiled observations offered here. I fear for our civil liberties; I fear a worst-instinct American reaction. More than anything, I fear an institutionalized and accepted racism, even before any questions are answered. Finding a time for personal silence and thought over the next days is the response. Not what anybody else has written or said, and there will be a lot of that. The question is not vengeance. The question is not future security. It is very basic. How do we let this impact us as individuals, as a community, and as a people?
This issue offers our redesign. This is not simply a rearranging of blocks of text. The staff spent some time thinking about what the Chronicle is and what the Chronicle should be. This is by nature, at least by Chronicle nature, an evolutionary process. We are not an institutionalized product. We reflect the reality of our mission. The next few weeks will see a refining of this redesign.
The idea is to convey even more news and information from all the areas covered without compromising longer profiles and stories. Toward this end, we've rearranged our sections and added several intro pages that, over time, will be loaded with information. Politics has become News, which will offer a broader range of coverage than before. As with every part of the paper, there will be an increased emphasis on timeliness. The front of the Chronicle has changed. "News of the Weird" and "Straight Dope" have moved back, "After a Fashion" has moved forward; "Public Notice" and "Video Reviews" are gone. Books has been folded into the Arts section. Listings have changed. View this as a work in progress. A well-developed architectural plan for a house not quite built.