OSC Answers Questions
In '"Speaker for the Dead'" you state or imply that if you really understand
someone, or put yourself in their place, you end up agreeing with them. Could
you do this exercise with the mastermind of the terrorist attacks on the World
Trade Center and the Pentagon? Can you understand him? Put yourself in his
place? Agree with him?
Also, in '"Ender's Shadow (I think) you say that the best teacher is your
enemy. What can we learn from these terrorists that could help us?
-- Submitted by Samuel Silva
OSC REPLIES: - September 25, 2001
I don't believe that I said that you end up agreeing with someone if you
truly understand him. I think a character said that, if that was what was actually
said. I personally believe that would happen only if you were weak yourself, or
didn't really know what you believed. Instead, when you truly understand
someone, you end up loving them -- even if you still see that they're hopelessly,
So, given what I actually believe, in fact I think I do understand something
of Osama bin Laden. He had to go through the normal process of demonizing all
Americans in order to justify killing us as he has, and in fact I believe that deep
down he knows he has embraced evil, which can be exciting but also devastating.
I think that at this point he is filled with despair, knowing he has crossed the line
that separates the redeemable from the unredeemable. Yet he still insists to
himself that what he did was '"right'" and unselfish and supportive of a noble
cause. He hides from the dark place inside where he knows that it's all a lie and
he has been -- or has allowed himself to be -- deceived by his own ambition.
But then, I'm just a fiction writer.