Where were you on September 11, 2001?
The phone rang at 9:15 a.m. My brother-in-law from Virginia asked, “Had we turned on the news?”
It was terrorists. One plane could make a fatal error, but not two planes.
We took in the surreal fact of mainland America being struck this way.
Having a feeling that we owed it to the kids to make them aware an historic catastrophe had occurred, we conveyed to them, aged seven and five, that two planes had crashed into buildings in New York City.
Maybe some bad men were stealing the planes. “But, why?” My thought hadn’t reached for “why” yet.
After the feelings of shock, what followed was solidarity with every person whose land has been laid to destruction in the course of history.
Remember the silence? I think we all felt like children listening fearfully to that silent sky. Even inside houses you could hear the absence of jet planes.
But soon this vulnerability was replaced by a need to know who to retaliate against.
In seventeen years, we have faced our demons in Iraq, in Afghanistan, at Guantanamo, and at home.
What breeds an urge to violence? In the case of Arab terrorists, it is religious zealotry and righteous anger. Our desire for revenge, too, was tempered with high-mindedness.
As my daughter commented wryly on a gift her kid brother received, “Sure. Give a guy of big gun and call him a Peacekeeper.”
As a nation, we forced ourselves to study the Muslim religion so that we could live by our value that a man is innocent until proven guilty. This was a good and necessary development for our society.
Now, our rage and self-righteousness should be exhausted. Our fear of other cultures remains high, but there is a strong resistance against bigotry.
On this particular day, when all those 2,977 people woke for the last time, each one giving a last try at living this life, a last kindness, a last mistake, I will return to merely listening for their absence, and caring.Browse Front PageShare Your Idea
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