To the Editor:

At the most fundamental level, the tragic events of last week are simply examples of interclan violence, a legacy of primitive ways of coping with a complex, confusing and frightening world. It is a tribute to humankind that, for the most part, we have abandoned or at least ritualized interclan violence.

Sadly, not all humans have forsworn such violence as a way to deal with their world. Sadly, too, divine warrant is usually claimed for interclan violence, and the recent events will probably bear out this pattern. The justification of violence against others through the belief that it is the intent, will or plan of one’s god is widespread in many cultures. We must especially guard against this dangerous attitude in our own country.

Our leaders must resist the call for vengeance, they must resist the call, all too common at times like these, to curtail our liberties, and they must resist the call for further divinely sanctioned interclan violence. Above all they must lead.

William C. Summers

September 16, 2001

The writer is a professor of Therapeutic Radiology and MB&B.