I had been awake a few hours already this morning before the realization hit that 16 years ago our world and nation changed forever. I recall sitting in an art class at 8:05am with no TV listening to the earliest reports via NPR, certainly unable to yet recognize the magnitude of this tragic event. As the morning unfolded reports of a plane crash turned into terrorism that shook our nation to its very core. The fear and shock of it all was unprecedented, especially as an attack on our own soil. Very few had lived through something that literally hit so close to home, and it incited an immediate reaction of chaos. Personally, it took a few days to understand why this happened and where its dark motives were rooted. In the somber silence of the confusion, no answers seemed fitting or plausible.
In all the chaos it was determined that the masterminds behind this vicious and shameless attack were none other than members of Al-qaeda led by Osama bin Laden. These same Islamist Nationalists and its organization were in the past assisted by our country in their fight against the communist shroud of pressing violence from the Soviets. So it begs the question why were they so hellbent on creating such violent destruction focused on a monument, city, and community that represented American culture? One prior effort had been prevented almost a decade before, but then why were we not readily on the defense to face another attempt?
16 years later, I’m not sure anyone has clear answers to this question or the details behind how this fateful morning unfolded. One could argue any of the thousands of conspiracy theories that it was a collaboration that should also bloody on the hands of our own government, or that it was a long time coming as revenge for not further assisting in Afghanistan rebuilding strong communities and infrastructure when weapons to defeat a common enemy (communists) were easily approved. The failed state created a ripe environment to breed hate out of suffering and created a culture of vengeance.
We’re again living in a global community that has massive amounts of suffering and poverty. Many of these places are war torn and shattered by corruption that is often fueled by ulterior motives not within the actual state in question. Jilted individuals who suffer grave loss and violence often turn to these same methods to seek revenge. Why don’t we focus on improving these situations with compassion and building instead of cruel ruination and bombing under the guise improvement.
Following 9/11/01 America came together under the vision and beliefs of our founders, supporting each other in a time of great tragedy. We were facing dark times that hadn’t been seen in decades, and with little information or strategy to move forward. Over a decade later I’m not sure much has changed, especially in regards to a genuine sense of community. Our current society seems to be further divided than ever, although growing more conscious by the day.
I have to recognize that as someone who experienced this not on a level of personal sorrow and loss, but from a safe bystander distance in my privileged Midwestern suburb-it’s too easy to not face this day with grave remembrance. To think of what we face currently as a world community and the amount of information at our fingertips, how will we move forward? How will we learn from the pain and struggle, when perhaps a large portion of the population was too young to remember or recognize the magnitude of this tragedy?
Today should be a day of mindful reflection. Remembering those lives lost that day and since in our fight against “terrorism”. Our reflection should be brutally honest about our state, our communities, our tolerance of hate and disparity. Have we killed Osama bin Laden- yes; have we beat terrorism-no. We have to start facing the reality that hate and terrorism aren’t rooted in nothing, they in fact come from our own darkest places and fears. Our privilege has led to the belief that displacing others of their way of life and happiness will not hold grave repercussions. It’s a dark day in the world again if we do not start the tough conversations and hold accountable those spouting hate.
Share your experience of this day, your pain and memories. The more we can share and foster a community open to discussion and understanding, the more effectively we can combat hate in terror in the world. Failed states are a result of focus on unsustainable practices, fostering vengeful hate and climates of volatile extremism. We are facing pivotal and extremely dangerous points in humanity that could further scar or improve the path of the global community. Currently there are natural disasters of flooding, epic storms, and fires destroying our cities while around the world many less fortunate face these as well with no means to rebuild. If we learn anything in this era, perhaps it will be to change our consciousness from self to community. Let’s create solutions that don’t exacerbate anyone’s suffering or struggle to enable others exponential success.
In our daily comfort and cocoon, we must still never forget-not out of cliché but from a source of survival and sustaining a world worth living in and for. Take a moment and let the vastness of this day and all it once represented wash over your mind. Be mindful of the ugly truths it presents, the hateful tragedy it marks, and the opportunity to understand and initiate positive change it offers.
Ultimately I think back to this poem that was shared with me by a great teacher and mentor that is an honest commentary still ringing true :
9/11 for Allen Ginsberg
9/11, I was sure that the world had changed forever because bad guys wanted America dead & hated us because we listen to rock ‘n’ roll and wear no mini-skirts on our naked faces!
9/11, I cheered when our warplanes ripped through the skies of Afghanistan scorching the caves where our enemies burrowed & I marveled at our precision-guided bombs trying to ignore their occasionally murderous imprecision!
9/11, I sat mesmerized in front of Fox News and CNN as the gargoyled faces of the Cold War began crawling out of the musty cellars of history and, eyes unaccustomed to light blinking, began to spout the doctrines of Total War!
9/11, I started to feel sorry for you when retired generals, admirals, spies, loonies and fakes brushed off their swords and rushed to your defense! So many double-chins! So many watering eyes! So many dentured grins and brush haircuts! So many double-bottom suitcases clutched in so many pimp-ringed hands! They even brought Ollie North from felonious disgrace to stand up for you with his Constitution-overthrowing boyish old looks!
9/11, I felt bad for you when the Lefties crowded you from the other side with their guilt-filled jaws of “I told you so,” and their eternal excuses for the wretched exotics of the world whose suffering they experience in their marble-topped kitchens between arguments about what wine to serve with the wild rice! And I wept for you again when soured professors who missed the collapse of commie fascism in 1989 descended on you like rabid wolverines led by Noam Chomsky whose teethmarks are all over the zero ground of American academia!
9/11, you saved the paranoids from self-cannibalism!
9/11, you were a boon to advertisers and publicists and flag-manufacturers, and they sold you with cars and pizzas and they drained you of your raw primal power even as they pretended to grieve for you! Zero down payment until Doomsday!
9/11, you were a godsent to poetasters who were out of the gate lamenting and whining before your towers even gave out!
9/11, your dead and your heroes are covered by thick layers of ash & greed & the Republic owes you an apology
9/11, I close my eyes and recall you in all your gory glory & I still hate those who did this to us and to our greatest city
9/11, I can barely remember you & I’m sorry