The way we were


The way we were

FTLComm - Tisdale - Tuesday, November 4, 2003


I was stunned for a moment as I looked at the innocent picture in a stack of frames for sale in a store. The black and white image of the New York forest of sky scrapers with the Empire State building at the centre. It doesn’t matter if the picture was taken from a helicopter or a passing plane because in my mind’s eye I could visualise the image being taken from one of the towers of the World Trade Centre. That thought was a sort of mental quake, a flash of the repeated television images of those buildings, the ones in the picture being witnesses to the real event now more than two years ago.




We all knew then that this was a moment of change in our time, that we as individuals, we as citizens of a country, we as the population of this planet, though we may not even have been aware of the event at the time, but before that moment, that was the way we were.



Henry II
the Law

The crusades were a major fad as Christians all over Europe were summoned by Pope Gregory to go to Jerusalem in a to protect Christendom from the Saracins. Henry II had died leaving his vast kingdom both on the island that included Britain but most of France in the hands of Richard the Lion Hearted. Richard and his brothers were definitely like both of their parents, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry Plantagenet . The definition of Europe was in progress and Henry had spent his whole life dashing from battle field to battle field at times with one more of his sons as the enemy. Knowing nothing but constant war Richard chose to take an Army to the Middle East and leave his kingdom in the hands of his brother John.




This story is not only a part of history it is a part of our legends and the basis for much of British culture. The stories of Robin of Locksley and John’s abuse of power are not just stories but tell of a struggle by a people to develop a constitutional monarchy. Finally after more suffering and mismanagement than necessary John was forced to agree to the terms of his kingship in a document called the “Great Charter” or in Latin the “Magna Carta”. This document spelled out the rules for a king and the guarantees granted a citizen. Those rules are considered almost universal around this planet today.




I tell you this story because the events of September 11, 2001 are on this scale for by the end of that week the government of the United States began to disregard the rules of the Magna Carta and within months countries including our own passed laws that gave special powers to the police and the government itself to suspend rules that had been established eight hundred years earlier. Citizens were detained without charges, some still in custody, the rules of evidence were ignored, in Canada the use of a writ signed by two cabinet ministers could wipe away the precious provisions of our own and the United Nation’s charter of rights and “secret” evidence not admissible in a court of law could be presented to a judge and the case against a defendant who would not be represented or even present would be decided upon by “reasonable” grounds.



TV News
one Power

In a little over an hour, nineteen hijackers gave their lives and took the lives of almost three thousand people as eight hundred years of progress and history were overwhelmed. Two factors had come into play that were not present at other times in history. The shock and visual awareness of the population of the planet were transmitted relentlessly via television on twenty-four hour news coverage and all this occurred at a time when the world lacked a balance of power.




We are still to close to the event and the repercussions of the actions of the government of the United States have only begun but we must roll back our memories to the way we were and recall for ourselves what we have lost. Personal liberty, human rights including those of freedom of speech and religion have not only been challenged they have been ignored. Violence is expected not avoided, hate has increased not lessened and self respect for us as a species has been damaged horribly. The last great superpower ignored the world government and now begs it to help out, the rules of war have been disregarded as prisoners from the conflict in Afghanistan are still held illegally and this is not the middle of the times of retribution, this is the beginning of a long and hostile period in the history of man.



this is

There is talk of resuming the “draft” in the United States once the election a year from now is resolved and compared to Vietnam this is still before 1968 when the “Tet” offensive began and the real war began. Yesterday the civilians carried jubilantly the helmet of a killed or wounded American from the crash of a Chinook helicopter brought down by a ground to air missile, those people see this as the beginning of their long struggle against the invader. May God have mercy on their soles and may we be truly thankful that our government had the presence of mind and the ability to resist the pressure to join the Americans in what was and will always be viewed in history as an unjust conflict.




It took seven hundred long years for the Magna Carta to be joined by other measures that came to protect the citizens of Britain and its empire from its own power. It is up to us to shorten that time and restore once again the predominance in our land of the Canadian Charter of Rights and strengthen it with a clause that will prevent and deter in the future an incident from overwhelming the principles that protect this society.

Timothy W. Shire

  Henry II, Britannia
  Historic figures, Henry 11, BBC
  Knox, Dr. E. L. Skip, Henry II, England during the Crusades.
  Knox, Dr. E. L. Skip, Richard I (1189-1199) England during the Crusades.
  Richardson, Kristi & Fisher, Mark, King Richard I (Richard the Lion-Hearted) (1157-1199) Seize the night web site
  Ibeji, Dr. Mike, King John and Richard L: Brothers and Rivals, Monarchs and Leaders, BBC
  Knox, Dr. E. L. Skip, John (1199-1216) England during the Crusades.
  John, Lackland (1199-1216) Britannia
  Ibeji, Dr. Mike, King John and the Magna Carta, Monarchs and Leaders, BBC
  Magna Carta, Britannia
  The British Library, Magna Carta
  Featured Documents, The Magna Carta, National Archives & Records Administration (USA)
  CBC Radio, The Current, Democracy Project, November 3, 2003
  CBC Radio, The Current, Bring Back the Draft, November 4, 2003


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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
Faster Than Light Communication
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