The Fallacies of 911
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Archived Posts from this Category
Posted by stidmama on 11 Sep 2009 | Tagged as: caring, citizenship, editorial, Gardens and Life, good things, hope, Making a Difference, musings, passages, Politics and War, social justice, The Fallacies of 911, Uncategorized
Sam Hinton. The world will miss you.
Though I never had the chance to meet Sam personally, I grew up looking through a book he had written and illustrated on the sea life of the coast of California. I think we all grew up knowing some of his songs.
As an adult, I rediscovered him through his granddaughter who became a penpal, and have set a goal to learn how to play the harmonica, an instrument both my grandmothers played, as well as Sam. But he was far better than any of us!
Far better, not just with the harmonica. It seems Sam was one of those bright stars who light up the lives of everyone they encounter. He brought new awareness to the beauty and fragility of the oceans. He helped re-introduce folk songs to the United States, founding a local group where he lived. He genuinely cared for people, individually and collectively.
He was a good man.
Today, there are tributes to the insanity of war. I would much rather our nation and the world focused on those people and events that heal… people like Sam. People like the public school teachers who do so much with so little for our children. People like hospice volunteers, designated drivers who take their role seriously, emergency responders. People like street performers who play the fool or bring us beauty, people who dream of better things, and those who help us unite around common causes.
Today, let’s focus on the essence of being “American” — not our beliefs, our language, our politics; let’s focus on the American willingness to stick our necks out for strangers, to stand up to injustice, to speak our minds in the face of tyranny. Let’s focus on that wide-eyed optimism coupled with hard-earned skepticism that allows us to simultaneously be enthusiastic about new prospects while spotting the flaws in time to fix them. This, more than our affluence, our laws, our governmental structures, makes Americans unique.
[Side note for my friends in other places: how do your countries’ traditions and legends inform your sense of self? What are the qualities that make your people unique and ready to set the world to rights? In other words, how would you define your positive national identity?]
Let’s look at what has gone wrong in the last decade, and the reasons for failure, and let’s do the right thing: fix the problem, and get on with our lives.
We don’t need to dwell on the horribleness of everything in order to pay tribute to the brave and innocent who lose their lives in tragedies. We can focus on the gifts they brought to the world and help realize their vision.
Rather than focusing on the gap Sam leaves behind as he exchanges one existence for another, I am going to focus on the ways he enriched the world, and how I can emulate him to the best of my ability. I think, if the world had more Sams in it, there would be fewer 9/11s.
Yep, it’s one of my famous political rants. Hold on to your seats!
It is quite clear, and has been for some time, that the terrorists who planned the 11 Sept 2001 attacks have won. Most are long dead, but the United States is at war on two fronts with insufficient resources to fight either one well. The world is in chaos financially, I believe in part because the emphasis on combatting terrorism by the United States government (and others) pushed everything else (such as financial decision-making and good trade treaties) out of the way. Individuals within the United States have been encouraged to indulge themselves in fear-mongering based on prejudice, leading to completely stupid over-reactions in many cases.
Here is the news story that triggered this rant: Family Grounded (CNN)
Now, I grew up as a child with a parent who flew airplanes. We always talked about safety issues on planes! I knew how to open an emergency exit by the time I was seven. I talk about plane, bus, train and boat safety with my own children.
And on the trip back home (the one in bad weather in the middle of the night), I reviewed safety procedures and the merits of sitting where we did (forward, next to the “door”/hatch that was only a few feet from the lifeboat pod), as well as the safest places to sit on an airplane…
Good thing I wasn’t wearing a veil, speaking with an accent, or carrying a non-Christian religious text.
The long and the short of it is, the United States is no longer a free nation, we are a fear-filled nation. People willingly gave up individual liberties and rights for the elusive promise of greater “security” and we are a few short steps from again putting citizens and permanent residents in concentration camps based on their ancestral or religious affiliations.
Wake up! Today we are no more safer than we were on 10 Sept 2001 – we are simply more frightened, more easily controlled and less likely to live “the American dream.”
Don’t like the situation I have described? Then be aware of your words and actions. Consider what you teach your children — are they watching you be generous of spirit and brave, or stingy and fearful? Do you cross the street when you are shopping and you encounter a person who is not as well dressed as you? Do you know your neighbors? Really? Which ones? All of them, or only the ones who look like you or act like you or worship as you do?
What makes the United States great — what made so many “western” nations great in the last century — was the ability of people new to an area to make their mark. We rejected the notion that only old blood was respectable and focused instead on the merits of individuals. Imperfectly, perhaps, we stood by the “proposition that all men are created equal.” And so, many immigrants and children of immigrants have managed to make it to the top of their professions, gain personal wealth, and become leaders in their communities.
I can point proudly to my own mixed ancestry — some came to North America in the early 1600s, others in the 1800s. Over and over, people left their homes to seek a better life on this continent. Over and over, they became productive citizens. The most recent was a grandmother who arrived in Chicago in 1931, with a suitcase and dreams, who managed to finish her own education when she was in her fifties and realize at least one of those dreams. She became a teacher… and owned her own home.
She lived the American dream.
But I wonder: will my children? Will yours?
I didn’t write anything on September 11, 2006 — worked the entire week and month before about what I might write, wanted to write, should write. Then didn’t. Started pulling things together on September 12. It is obviously going to take a little longer than I anticipated. So I am starting a new category and will post in small amounts as I manage to find the words for this difficult subject.
I will pull a few threads together that have been consistent for me over the last few weeks, months, years… my lifetime.
Let’s start with re-stating the obvious. The events on U.S. soil on September 11, 2001 were appalling. They were painful to watch, even for those who knew no person directly involved, whether lost or helping in the rescue and recovery efforts. No other attack on primarily civilian targets had ever succeeded on such a scale in this country. With the exception of the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, there had been nothing in my adult life that even approximated this event.
That said, let’s talk about what it actually meant at the time. Obviously, it meant that there are some people in this world who care so little for other people they are willing to commit mass murder just to make a point.
But that isn’t news.
It meant, also, that the United States government was not listening to its sources and following up on leads to prevent this sort of attack. It meant, perhaps, that there were just so many leads — real as well as false — that sifting through them took more hours and people than the government could provide.
But that isn’t news.
Obviously, it meant that the United States was a target, but so too was the world — it was, after all, the WORLD trade center, and huge numbers of the dead and injured were born outside the United States.
That isn’t news, either!
And it meant that, somewhere, there was a degree of desperation, or madness, or both on the part of the people who planned and carried out the attack.
And neither was this truly newsworthy.
Finally, it meant that the United States had entered the modern world as seen through the eyes of people the world over: never knowing if the young boy riding home from school, or the grandmother entering the bus, or the car parked across the street might be carrying a bomb. Never knowing when, or where, or for whom, the next bomb would be detonated. And yet knowing there would be another…
This was definitely news!
My thoughts moved from what that single terrorist incident to the many incidents in the world before and since: bombs in Indonesia, Spain, India, Yemen, Israel, …
The United States is not alone — as a nation or as a people, no matter how isolationist its policies, nor misguided its actions.
Not only does the United States not exist in a vacuum, but there are many many countries that deal, on a truly daily basis with crimes and tragedies of this type and on nearly this scale.
So the question becomes:
How do we deal with these new (to us) fears and remain the same open, optimistic, outgoing people we imagined ourselves to be on September 10, 2001?