Changed Everything

I woke up early this morning with the thought, “This is the Sunday I’m finally going to make it to All Souls UU Church and make some friends in NYC who aren’t teachers.” Then, I remembered that today was September 11th, and decided I didn’t really want to get out of bed after all, let alone leave the house and have to face New York City in full mourning.

Maybe it’s because I wasn’t in New York on that day, wasn’t even in the United States.
Maybe it’s because of all the time I’ve spent in the Middle East since then and the collateral damage I’ve born witness to in that time.
Maybe it’s because of all the harassment and difficulty my Muslim and “brown” friends across the country and the world have suffered in the interim.
Or maybe it’s just because I was raised to be such a radical humanist.

I’m so tired of America putting on this big parade about how unfortunate we were to be attacked on 9/11. We’ve been attacked ONCE in SIXTY-FIVE years by foreign adversaries. How many nations around the world can say that? Or as my friend Ginny noted on Facebook today: 

9/11 death toll    =      2,819. 
US casualties in the wars that followed    =      6,686. 
non-US casualties in the wars that followed  =  148,000. 

It’s not that I begrudge the families of the dead their mourning, their anger, their remembrance. They suffered. I would never deny them acknowledgement of that.

But I really struggle with the self-indulgence of people in Florida and California and Kansas and everywhere in between who think their lives have been irrevocably marked by what happened in New York, DC and Pennsylvania.  Did the bombing of Sarajevo change the world?  Did the fall of Mogadishu change the world?  Did the massacre on the Pearl Circle change the world?  Did the blockade of Gaza change the world?  And these are just the tragedies of the last 65 years that I can recall off the cuff.  How many hundreds more are there that we never even heard about?  It seems so arrogant to think 9/11 is so much more important.

But, of course, it’s not arrogant. It’s fact. 9/11 did change the world, starting a chain reaction of a magnitude we never could have imagined, which resulted directly or indirectly in massive deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq, civil war in Yemen, liberation in North Africa, increased oppression in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, increased Kurdish autonomy, God-only-knows in Iran….

And maybe that’s what makes me angry most of all … that we have such overwhelming power to impose our judgements, our grief and our consequences on the rest of the world.

2 comments

  1. Through image search of burkaladies on the net I came across your blogs, and I appreciate your thoughtful ideas about politics, on behalf of your country. It is particularly interesting since you also have good knowledge of the middle east. We all live in this badly changed world, after 11.sept. I have long thought that I should have written and given you positive feedback, but my english is so bad that I do not want to publish my impulsive comments (on complicated matters like politics). Anyway -You have a great blog! It took some time before I understood that your other blog was deserted…

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  2. Thank you, Sonja. I'm glad to hear that you've enjoyed my posts. I will be back to posting in the next few weeks, now that I'm settled into my new job, and with the Occupy Wall Street protests going on in my new home town, so don't give up on me yet!

    Btw, I've been an English teacher for years now, and I think you underestimate your English. From what I've seen here, you write very well! I welcome your comments!

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