Yesterday was Monday, September 10. At the end of the work day, I finished transcribing my telephone interview with Ron Simkus, the president and CEO of Compaa Minera Antamina, which operates the Antamina mine. As I rode home on the bus, I planned a great new way to tackle the story–a real innovation, I thought, for a trade magazine. I had chosen some of Ron’s last words in the interview–“It blows your mind”–as a headline. I was riding a crest, looking forward to coming to work this morning to put my plan into words.
Shortly after getting to my desk today, I heard the first words of news about the terrorist attacks in New York and then Washington, D.C. People rushed to the top floor of our building where writers of the National Post newspaper work, and they were all transfixed by the television reports as the attacks kept coming. Then the terror swept across the continent, closing down one system after another–evacuating buildings, closing subways, shutting airports, closing borders. It was far too much like a two-star action/suspense film to seem real.
My Antamina article headline now sounds like a bad joke, and I am having great trouble concentrating on my writing.
I wouldn’t have thought yesterday that so many people, including me, could be thrown into such mental and emotional turmoil as has happened, by a series of acts of terror in another country. But New York and Washington are not in a foreign country so much as they are a one- or two-hour flight away from Toronto, where I live. I cannot dismiss my 10-year-old son’s fears when he says, “I hope the terrorism doesn’t come to Canada.”
Even our more distant neighbours are not so far away. We have unfortunately become inured to the pain of watching the two sides fight it out in the more troubled spots of the world–the Middle East, Northern Ireland, the former Yugoslavia, various parts of Africa. As I write, the attacks in the United States have not been blamed on anyone or any group, although the culprits will likely soon surface, along with their intentions.
The only grain of wisdom that I can offer is that I am glad to support an industry that strives to build and not destroy, that brings order and prosperity rather than chaos and fear. Mining has its faults, especially in the areas of environmental stewardship and employee safety, which we in the press are quick to point out. But the orderly mining and processing of essential minerals and metals is on the whole a benefit to civilization.
Today we are not so nave as yesterday. The people who want to hurt others speak with a loud voice today, and we have heard them. There will be voices tomorrow urging us to strike back. It is essential, however, that we in the mining business around the world continue to be a positive force to the benefit of all people.