Will Terror Bring Change to Our Labs?

IT’S BEEN ALMOST TWO WEEKS SINCE THE TRAGIC EVENTS of September 11, 2001. Like many of you, I have yet to fully comprehend the meaning of all that occurred. In going about routine tasks each day, the people I come in contact with are subdued and reflective, even somewhat distracted.

They work purposefully, but at a measured pace. Ebullience is lacking. People we know and celebrate for being enthusiastic and energetic have chosen to lower their public displays and show another, more meditative side of their personality.

The metaphor which comes to mind involves our children. We all recognize when they commit some act which is clearly so outrageous that, once committed, they instantly recognize they have “crossed the line” and thus are fully deserving of the punishment or consequences which must follow. I believe, across the world, both god-fearing people and terrorists alike recognize the heinous crimes committed on September 11 did “cross the line.” Those events are forcing all moral people to act in concert and accept the cost in human blood that will be required to bring the world-wide movement of terror under control.

I believe we are about to enter a new historical cycle. If the battle against communism and tyrants dominated the world for 40 years, the new conflict will be among those who support the rule of law and self-determination versus individuals willing to kill and destroy as the method to their ends. This new historical cycle will place us all on the front lines of terrorism. As attacks upon New York City and Washington, DC so graphically demonstrate, our free and open society cannot protect 100% of us from terrorism all the time and still maintain the rights and freedoms that make the United States the place where so many people want to come and be free to pursue their dreams.

So if it is now true that we are all manning the front lines in the battle against terrorism, then the laboratory industry will be called upon to support healthcare and society in new ways. Certainly, this includes a heightened awareness of how biological and chemical agents might be used against our citizenry, along with the capability to detect them swiftly and help deal with the after-effects of such an unthinkable terrorist act. I wish all of you well in leading your laboratory teams through the eventful and perilous times toward which our society is heading.


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