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Back to Home Page Headline News November 16, 2002
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New York City, Bali share grief

Damaso Reyes, Contributor, The Jakarta Post, Kuta, Bali

A few weeks ago, for the second time in as many years, I found myself walking through the scene of a terrorist attack. The second was here in Bali, a place I had always associated with peace and paradise, someplace I wanted to make home. The first, in New York, came as much as a surprise to us as it did to the Balinese.

As I walked down Jl. Legian and through the scene, it struck me how similar the sites were, the twisted metal, the background of broken facades against charred and mangled cars. Even the smell brought back memories of that warm day in September last year when I woke to the destruction of two buildings that had been erected before my birth and that I was sure would continue to cast shadows long after I had found my peace. Walking down the street with my friend Christine, she noted how much the scene reminded her of being in Latin America. I replied that after the last two years terrorism had no boundaries, that it no longer could be confined or categorized.

As one man I recently interviewed said when speaking of the effects of the attacks on the Balinese and expatriate communities: "we have been struck by the same arrows."

What amazed me in New York over a year ago was how quickly and strongly people came together to help one another. Here in Bali the response was the same. From offers of blood and money to time and energy in the form of volunteers. If the terrorists behind Sept. 11th and Oct. 12th wished to divide people, to use fear and anger as a tool to separate their intended targets, the response of New Yorkers and Balinese, of Americans and Indonesians, proved how wrong was their idea.

In New York, somewhere perceived by many as a city without a soul, churches, synagogues and mosques were filled to capacity. Here in Bali, a place renowned for its spirituality, one cannot walk down the street without stepping over an offering left in a doorway, a gift of atonement, a chance to cleanse the spirit of pain and anger.

Walking down Jl. Legian reminded me of walking down West Broadway that bright fall morning that had started out with so much promise, that day when the streets were white with what one could only wish was snow. We have all been struck by the same arrows.

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