Getting What They Wanted

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For days now, I’ve debated with myself on whether or not to write about my perspective of how 9/11 has changed this country, this world. I’ve read heartbreaking posts by people who lost loved ones.  I have felt like there is nothing I can add, nothing I can say, that hasn’t been said. And yet…

These thoughts have kept me awake. These thoughts have been nagging at me for years. They fueled some of the writing behind my thesis. They color my outlook on my country and this world. They keep me from believing that we as a country, as a world, as a species, have a way out of this mess.

I look around and see record unemployment. An education system crippled by budget cuts. An economy in shambles.

I see a political system so caught up in partisanship and in pointing the finger at the “other” guy, that nothing can get done. I see billions of dollars going towards wars that we can’t win, that we shouldn’t even be fighting.

I see hateful words directed towards anyone who strays from the path of the “righteous” values of extremist Christians. I hear hate spewed across the airwaves, coming from our news sources, the places where we should be able to get some unbiased coverage of what goes on in this country.

What has happened to us? Yes, we pulled together right after the tragedy of 9/11, but it didn’t take long for us to unravel. We spend so much time fighting one another, blaming one another, we can’t see that we’ve given the terrorists exactly what they wanted.

They wanted to break this country, to drive a wedge between a people that believed in diversity, justice, democracy. They wanted to make us fearful of losing our way, of losing our economy, of losing our security. They wanted us to know what it was like to be afraid of an enemy we could never truly know, never truly defeat. We have become our own enemy, just as dangerous as the terrorists.

The attacks made us distrustful, fearful, and a bit paranoid. It has turned us against one another. Look at our politicians. How many of them are working together to find reasonable, fair solutions to getting this country back on track? How many of them are spending their time blaming the other party, other countries, anyone but themselves, for the state we are in?

That religious extremism that was at the heart of the 9/11 attacks? Look at the news and tell me you don’t see the same exact trend starting here in some Christian groups. I see it every day.  I weep as I watch this country dig itself into a deeper hole of separatism. It has to stop.

Is there hope? Yes, I honestly believe there is. I see glimmers of it now and then. But there isn’t enough. We have to stop fearing each other. We have to stop blaming “others” for the state of our country. We have to stop giving those behind the attacks exactly what they wanted.

Extend a hand or a kind word to someone you disagree with. Extend help to someone in need instead of turning a blind eye. Accept that you have a different viewpoint than someone else. Accept that the world is shades of gray and that with compromise we can find solutions to problems that need to be solved now. Accept that we all share a little of the blame. Accept that we all deserve justice, equality, freedom. Accept that we cannot change the past but must learn from it if we are to evolve and become better.

Nine years of fear is enough.

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