Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten years: looking back and forwards

Amidst the commemorative tributes, the solemn moments of silence, the reflection gives way to a question: where have we been? And from there, where are we going?
As with any tragedy, it's almost hard to remember what life was like before 9/11. And psychologically speaking, it makes perfect sense. When something that shocking happens, your mind is so preoccupied with trying to understand and get through it, the world around those events matters little. And when the haze of shock and awe wanes, your eyes blink open and accept what they see, accept the changed world with little rebuke.
I make no statement as to whether this is right or wrong - it's human. Shocking events don't effect the critical thinking areas of our brain. But as we sit here now, 10 years down the line, the critical thinking should really be in high gear. It seems however, that is not the case.
From journalists to economists and teachers to unemployed servers, this decade is being stamped as one of the worst in our history. Of course, as soon as that argument is suggested, someone inevitably points out that since 9/11, there hasn't been a terrorist attack on our soil.
Yeah, but there wasn't before that either. It wasn't as if 2001 was the first year we were deemed unpopular by extremist groups in the Middle East.
And how does one explain the trillions of dollars spent on wars? Afghanistan is still a sad and sorry excuse for a transitional democracy, not to mention this past month having been one of the bloodiest for our troops there to date. And Iraq? At this point, I think most people that haven't Hellen Keller-d their way through the past decade can agree Hussein had fuck all to do with any of it. He was quite happy killing his own people, using our arms and trained forces to do it. Oh, and let's not forget Bin Laden who used to be on the CIA's pay roll.
That aside, what have we got to show for those two wars? A wrecked economy and one terrorist floating in the middle of the ocean...supposedly? Are we really safer?
As Iran continues to gain influence and our idea of diplomacy is little more than drones, undercover operatives and threats, I don't feel much safer. And yet, I was never really scared.
I have long felt that the product we are best at manufacturing is fear. We took Bush's word and stormed into Afghanistan. We continued to shrug and wave flags as we blazed into Iraq. We nonchalantly accepted legislation that crippled our economy, infrastructure and rights. Again, the shocking haze...
But again, that haze should have lifted - the fog from fear and hate created on that day 10 years ago should be gone. We should now be able to look at cold, hard facts. Yes, this decade has been utter shit. Yes, on this day we are still saddened and effected by the attacks. We can take both in stride. What we took away in the days following the attacks was that together, we are strong. Together, we can get through anything. Where is that sentiment today?
As Congress continues to tear itself apart with bitter in-fighting, as apathy and distrust snowball throughout hearts and minds, can we not bring those sentiments forward with us? And leave the haze back in the rubble where it belongs?
I sit here tonight, a flag above me as I write, and I am proud. I am proud to be a US citizen. I am proud of the ideals and foundations of this country, that can not be brought down in falling buildings, that live inside, intangible yet stronger than steel. It dictates to me that this is wrong. This decade is not deserving of those who are not here to see it. It is not deserving of those who fought so hard to protect it.
This is our country and our future. In this moment of silence and reflection, consider our past and our future. Consider this day 10 years ago. Consider this day 10 years from now. What has changed and what needs to change? It must come from us, we, the people.
Think. React. Do Something.

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