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Saturday, July 16, 2005 | The new trolley extension, along with spanking brand new trolley cars, was inaugurated last weekend. We went from Qualcomm to San Diego State University, where we walked through a fine looking transportation center that students, faculty and visitors should love. It solves so much of the radical parking problem afflicting students for decades. There were politicians of every stripe praising the decades of work that made this event possible. Chief among the praised was one of my favorite people, Leon Williams, whose love of this city exceeds his elegant taste in hats and attire. His wonderful wife complements a marvelous marriage created in heaven, where God contends with heartbreaks, rather than potholes.

Heartbreak refers to the bombings in London, which occupied my mind while riding the trolley. People now have to think about whether they want to ride something, on which people are collected, to serve as targets for the amoral and the devilish. I don’t expect any candidate for mayor to issue a “fatwah” against the chief devil of our century, Osama bin Laden. It’s not in the agenda of the terminally-laid-back San Diegan or its leaders.

However, I call to your attention his fatwah, urging Jihad against Americans, published on Feb. 23, 1998: “On that basis and in compliance with God’s order, we issue the following fatwah to all Muslims; the ruling to kill the Americans and their allies – civilians and military – is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it.” He pronounces sentence on all whom he calls pagans and oppressors. He is a kind-looking monster who now makes us think about what we ride in, live in, play in, pray in.

Religion is frequently the pothole into which humans fall as gods are interpreted by those who claim to know the vocabulary of intense devotion and passion. Their practices have always been personalized by slaughter, haunting humankind since Cain and Abel. There is no ethic to the establishment of a religion as people search for meaning in their lives. All ultraconservative practitioners dehumanize with what they do not agree.

The beauty of San Diego is too often the excuse for our laid-back principles, which are only disturbed by an occasional rabble rouser, or a new subdivision, or of course, a suddenly appeared pothole; oh yes, and whether the housing market can crash. I’ve concluded that we are permanently divided into two classes of people, those who can afford what they dream of owning and those who cannot. Therefore, anyone with equity in their homes will fight passionately to keep their homes, while those without equity, on a no-interest or interest-only mortgage, will not or cannot. A massive terrorist attack will disturb both classes; it is the new “big one” that we have always thought of as an earthquake. Now it is a religious passion possessed by the devilish and not by any particular religion, for we are all preoccupied by something; it’s just that some of us need dynamite to make our points.

Sanford “Sandy” Goodkin is acting chairman of Civic Solutions, a group of leaders who analyze San Diego’s problems, prioritize them and search for solutions, representing diverse points of view. He is a trustee of the Urban Land Institute and is a pioneer of residential market and marketing analysis. Read his real estate columns at www.sgoodkin.com.

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