Sunday, September 11, 2011

My reflections on 9/11

I haven't posted in over 2 years on this blog. So why today? Well, I woke this morning - ten years after a major changing point in my life and I decide to reflect on it.

September 11, 2011. Ten years after a tragedy that "Change America Forever". And just like 10 years ago, I am preparing to go to into the office and dive into a project. I've two piles of laundry that I haven't gotten around to washing because, well, I live my life in the office.
Anyway, I remember that very vividly. I was at my first job after college, a small biotech firm around the corner from my parent's place. It was the last day of the Democratic Primaries for the local elections. I was getting ready for work and listening to Tom Joyner on my old stereo (one of the first things I bought with a new job). I was shocked to hear a somber tone on the usually irreverent Tom Joyner. And Tavis Smiley talking a lot more than usual.

I went into my office and heard the whole office yammering but silent - everyone was glued to internet radio (streaming video was rare back in 2001). Two planes had crashed into the New York financial district and the Pentagon. Everyone had crazy theories. Anarchists, Saddam Hussien, Mommar Kaddhafi and of course, Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaida. I remember not getting much work done that day. I remember leaving work early because the CEO was too worried that his brother was stuck on a plane that wasn't landing or worse -a victim. I remember message boards going a buzz with who survived and who didn't. I stayed up all night (more than usual) watching CNN.

Now, how did this country change forever? Other than putting us into two wars that I've protested 3 times in 10 years (I know, I'm a poser peacenik) and create all sorts of weird police state developments? Well, to paraphrase John Wooden "[Tragedy] does not change character, it reveals it." If anything, 9/11 has revealed Americans to be a nation of paranoid, divided self absorbed neurotics who refuse to grow as nation or come together to solve problem.

Conservatives have become more terrified, more racist and more xenophobic. Things that I thought, as a child, were outmoded forms of thinking, became the norm. All Muslims are violent terrorists, Mexicans bring disease. We're OK with our nation's leaders spying on people and killing people or throwing them in jail without trial.

Liberals have become less willing to see themselves as a part of the nation. Progressives, myself included, saw 9/11 as the ultimate Blowback and stuck in our mindset that America is the Great Satan. We, as liberals, have become less dedicated to making the country better and ever more concern with wagging our self-righteous fingers at conservatives, moderates and other, less active, liberals for simply not agreeing with our world view. We yell and scream and stamp our feet because we don't get our way.

If anything, 9/11 became a giant gulf between Left and Right in this country.

The vast middle of this country, well, most simply don't pay enough attention to understand what is going. And slowly, this vast moderate/ independent part of the American public has become innoculated and indifferent to the war, the police state, the political bickering and the loss of treasure.

As a nation, we have become more convinced violence as the only means to solve problems. We're constantly going after bad guys. And I don't mean directed police actions, I'm talking big action movie style "Shock and Awe" where we travel to the Middle East and topple two dust bowls of nations in under 6 months and spend the remaining 9 years fighting geurilla fighters whose only wish is for we Yankees to go home. He spent trillions (with a T) fighting a guy, who in the end, was living a mansion, watching CNN and making crazy videos about blowing us up and making us spend trillions chasing him. We've depleted time, talent and treasure chasing thugs in Middle Eastern caves with AK-47's and in the end making ourselves the ultimate recruitment tools for more young Arab men to pick AK-47's, live in cave and yell "Death to America ".

Many in this country embrace the most ridiculous, outlandish theory as to why and how 18 guys with box cutters sneaked on 4 planes and crashed them into buildings. When you "answer" takes longer than 10 minutes to explain, you're probably full of it. Again, as a nation, we've become even more paranoid and will cling to anything.

How has 9/11 changed me? In ten years, I've gone through 6 different tech jobs, got laid off from one, quit two and fired from two. I've had friends go off to war and were forever changed. I've had several love ones die tragically and in pain. I've became even more politically aware and for about 3 1/2 years was engaged in Green Party politics, then slowly moved away from political activism as career and disillusionment crept into my life. If anything, I think 9/11 has changed me to become more knowledgeable about the world, but also less willing to listen to people who see a different point of view. Some good and some bad. 9/11 made me question my own nation, my own beliefs and my faith in God and mankind.

Did 9/11 change me or make me grow? Well, I'm often revel in self-examination to the point of self mutilation. I don't know if I "changed" any - I simply feel that I am less certain about the world than I was 10 years ago. But, realize in that despondent reflection, that uncertainty - I can find the strength to grow and build.

Well, today is day of reflection - let's hope that reflection will leads us into a better place 10 years from now. The first 10 years post 9/11 were serious growing pains.

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