How do we respond to the devastation of September 11, deadly attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon? Many responses come to mind. Prayer. Care for the injured and bereft. Increased security, increased vigilance. Just punishment for the masterminds behind the carnage, if we can find them. Sharper on-the-ground intelligence-gathering. Stronger international cooperation against terrorism. Congregational immersion in Scripture stories of God's people who lived through radical loss and destabilization, from Joseph to Daniel to John, Peter, and Paul.

Hit in the solar plexus

This disaster is a wake-up call. Since the so-called end of the Cold War, many of us have not given much thought to the rest of the world except as occasional business, tourist, or short-term mission connections. Those days are over. We've been hit in the solar plexus with the truth that that we are globally connected and cannot cut loose.

Businessmen already know that. In Thomas Friedman's bestseller on globalization, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, he describes a label on a computer part that reads, "This part was made in Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, China, Mexico, Germany, the U.S., Thailand, Canada, and Japan. It was made in so many different places that we cannot specify a country of origin." Through the Internet many Americans have also tapped into a common global shopping system and global library. We are globally integrated as never before.

Yet many of us continue to live cocooned in own little circle of friends, walled off from people who are different. To think about the rest of the world overwhelms us. Masses of data pour out of the media, jumbled in sound bites that juxtapose great human tragedies with beer ads. We know Americans ...

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