Ten years ago, horrible atrocities were committed against innocent children, women, and men at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and over Pennsylvania. Nothing can ever make up for the physical and emotional pain and suffering that was experienced by the victims and their families. Members of the fire, police and rescue crews went in to help despite the risks holding the lives of complete strangers in higher regard than their own. Many of them sacrificed their lives and we should have nothing but respect for their actions. Despite all this, some goodness did come out of the atrocities as many people helped complete strangers in times of need. The lives of those who died and the lives of their families have forever changed and we should never forget what happened. Additionally, the lives of our military servicewomen and servicemen as well as hundreds of thousands of innocent people who died in Afghanistan and Iraq should not be forgotten. Most importantly though, we should remember how the world has changed and how we shouldn’t let feelings from 9/11 dominate our innate goodness and behavior towards others.
Here is a blog post from five years ago that references an email I sent out right after September 11th. It focused more on the subsequent victims who were also innocent. It's an unfortunate phenomena that many minority groups face. If you're a (relatively) small group, the actions of a few in your group can easily represent the whole minority community in the eyes of the majority. From these events, the reputation of a whole religion and its members were unjustifiably spoiled. I always say that 99.999…% of Muslims are not terrorists. We have no right to judge an individual based on the actions of others who happen to share some religious beliefs.
These events have sometimes led to increased understanding for those who are open minded but often, 9/11 makes life harder for people even though it shouldn’t. My life has personally been affected. I sometimes feel a vibe from others that I didn’t feel before 9/11. Being brown is enough for some people to dismiss me as “one of them.” Much of the American public thinks it’s OK to take away the civil liberties of people who look a certain way or have a certain faith. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t remain vigilant to prevent future terrorist attacks. But our officials have to be smart about how we go about monitoring and investigating for national security, whether it’s the CIA or the airport security personnel.
With the Patriot Act, basic rights were sacrificed in the name of fear. Use of hatred as a political lever is wrong and un-American but it happened. Our country was founded on religious freedom and our strength comes from diversity. Unfortunately, with freedom comes risk. Every time we take away freedoms, the terrorists have scored more points towards winning. Every time we judge based on religion or skin color, the terrorists have scored more points. Let’s not fall for this trap. Let’s allow freedom and respect win out over fear and loathing. The better we understand those from other cultures, the more those other cultures will respect us and like us.
God bless the world. We are all God’s children and we should be hopeful that we can all work towards getting along more peacefully. Let’s never forget 9/11, but let’s always remember how it has changed the world. With conscious effort we can win out over the hatred that led to the despicable events of that day ten years ago.