Editor's Note: Companies, Employees Strive To Rebuild
The world we knew in the prosperous, pleasant, and relaxing era between the Cold War and Sept. 11 is "totally and completely gone with the wind." Those are the words of James Woolsey, former CIA director, whom I heard speak at a breakfast meeting hosted by webMethods last week. "Remember looking forward to the next IPO? Searching for the killer app? Or that it didn't matter that your cell phone wasn't [totally] reliable or secure?" That world, he says, is gone forever.
It's a chilling statement. And one that might dissolve any hopes that our lives will ever get back to normal. But I guess normal is now a relative term. Our parents and grandparents were part of a generation that dealt with some incredibly tough times. That may not provide any comfort, but it at least shows that life goes on, albeit with adjustments to attitudes, morals, safety precautions, priorities, and more.
This week, we launch a new section called Regeneration that will chronicle, among other things, the efforts people and businesses--including those who had most of their physical assets destroyed when the Twin Towers crumbled and the Pentagon burned--are making to bounce back.
In the past few weeks, InformationWeek reporters and photographer Sacha Lecca spent time with three New York financial-services firms and two trading exchanges to see how they're coping and progressing. As much as the images of the Sept. 11 destruction are hardwired into our brains, most of these folks experienced the terror firsthand. In a time of such uncertainty, change, and fear, it takes guts, determination, patience, and focus to get back to business. In many cases, that means reaching into the deep reserves of strength and willpower. It has revealed unprecedented cooperation among competitors and strangers, and strengthened the resolve of everyone living in New York and Washington.
At the same breakfast meeting I mentioned earlier, Sandy Berger, former national security adviser, said something that really struck a chord. He noted that the United States will be fighting a long-term war that requires as much staying power as firepower, and while Americans shouldn't let the terrorists get the best of us, we must practice "vigilant normality." No doubt, all of those businesses that are striving to recover, rebuild, and renew understand this need and will hopefully grow stronger in the process.
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