Fear and Loathing on 9/11

Now, the American people have got to go about their business. We cannot let the terrorists achieve the objective of frightening our nation to the point where we don’t conduct business, where people don’t shop.
– George W Bush (October 11, 2001)

9/11. Thousands of Americans were murdered senselessly through acts of aggression.

I can’t but think what might have been. If we had true visionaries, true leaders, some ten years ago. But our society is one based on greed, consumptive consumerism, and violence. And our leaders are in place to keep us on task. And so that is the route we went. We could have stood in union with the suffering around the world. We could have moved towards lasting internal and international peace. But we were told – and we bought – that shopping is brave, that retribution is psychologically healing, that violence is strength.

We reacted through war and buying until we killed nearly a million people and destroyed many other lives through our economic policies.

from Dr. K Trotter blog

As I ponder and think back through my own natural jingoistic reactions, (how upset I was when I saw fewer flags on one block than on another. How I laughed at jokes at local Muslims’ expense. How I wanted to get them sumsobiches) I wonder that 9/11 should have been a time for somber solidarity – for recognizing that even America is fragile. That we are connected to the thousands upon thousands who die daily in countries ravaged by starvation, AIDS, malaria, genocide, widespread poverty, oppressive regimes, and (largely connecting all these dots) globalization.

Globalization, by the way, was one of the primary rallying points for the Al Queada terrorists. When we deploy American imperialistic forts throughout sacred shrines, we are dismissing people groups and what is most important to them. How do we rationalize that our felt needs are more important than theirs?

9/11/01 should have been a moment of recognizing our shared humanity, the fact that we are all precious, that we all bleed, that we can live in moments of fear. But it became a time for more hubris. Instead of asking, “Why does violence happen to any of us?” we asked, “Why should violence happen to US?


Now is the time to reflect. Now is the time to empathize and hear the suffering of not only our next door neighbors, but of our neighbors in Cambodia, in Nigeria, in Laos, in Ukraine, in Mexico, in the Phillipines, Puerto Rico, in North and South Korea, in Vietnam, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now is the time for healing and strength that can only be found by banding together.

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5 thoughts on “Fear and Loathing on 9/11

  1. Amen. Beautifully said. All the vengeful words that I hear this time of year and the blind patriotism that comes with them just makes my heart hurt even more today. Today should not be a day for more division, but rather, for healing and forgiveness. It's only through forgiveness and empathy that we can heal as individuals, a country, and a world. I say this as someone who was affected very personally by 9/11. I live in Brooklyn, NY and I lost my uncle because of these events. It's taken me a long time to try and keep the hatred out of my heart, and there are some days where I succeed more than others, but every day I get a little stronger and I'm able to let go of a little more hate and fear. I pray that we are all able to open our hearts to each other and become a truly human family, not one that is defined and divided by country, race, creed, sexual orientation, etc.

  2. Thanks, Jason, for saying so well what needs to be said. No one is safe always, and America is no different. We forget the sufferings of other countries and get all upset when we suffer some too. It makes me sad.

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