It was mid afternoon and I was cranking through boring, endless spreadsheets when one of my office mates got a phone call from her husband that we should go immediately and turn on the TV.
Heading down the hall, we watched in disbelief at the clip running on CNN of a plan flying into its side. With the speed of modern communications, we watched our world, as well as the Twin Towers crumble. Watched in horror at the scenes from the Pentagon, knowing full well that people we personally knew had died.
The effects are still with us today. A mess in Afghanistan from which we still have not been able to extricate ourselves and the insanity of Iraq where we never should have gone but for the greed of a limited number of officials.
The guards and fences don’t keep others out, but they very effectively keep us in. Isolated and separated from the larger community of those around us, we understand them and deal with them less day by day.
In the US we had always felt so safe, smug, free from personal risk. Knowing that the risks facing those in the rest of the world has had an extremely negative daily effect to this day. We haven’t grown up, we have hidden in our rooms: starting wars is not an act of adulthood but that of bullies.
We have sacrificed personal freedoms, space and privacy for an illusion of safety only realising later the implications of moving toward the old communist standard with the ability to witch hunt and make people disappear without regards to their civil rights.
I am more of a cynic today than I was then. I don’t think that the average US citizen wants to bear their share of responsibility and cost. It is easier to act like kids on a playground trying to own the jungle gym than to cooperate and look at roles, responsibilities and resources. We, in the US, are a society that wants to blame others, have all of our products completely safe and not have any personal risk that we don’t choose.
May I recommend that you once more watch Exhibit 13, think about the bravery of all the response people who did their best to rescue as many as possible and the sacrifices of so many of the military since then.
The world has always been a scary place if you lived in Asia, South America, Africa and not safe or secure for yourself or your children. Think about how you can make the world a bit better a place for others as well as yourself. Do it in memory of those who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time and all the families/friends whose lives were permanently altered.