Like most of America I watched the twin towers fall on TV and the internet – living and working in Washington DC I also had a rare experience of being amidst the chaos that erupted in DC and seeing a thick column of smoke billowing from the site of the attack on the Pentagon. At the time I worked on the 6th floor of Children’s National Medical Center and we had a clear view of the smoke at the Pentagon from our windows.
There was an overwhelming sense of fear and uncertainty, a feeling that this was the beginning of something that would change, if not end, the world. In my minds eye I could see the US retaliating against whomever it was and it leading to global destruction. I thought for sure the end of the world was right around the corner, and it turns out I was right.
After the attacks on the US our country was encompassed in fear. We were afraid to laugh, afraid to hope, afraid to dream. It was quite a few months before we were confident enough to fly again and even then fear was encouraged by security at airports that grabbed the elderly and toddlers searching them for terrorist devices. Politicians, churches, and pundits of many fields all fueled speculation of worst case scenarios that would lead to the total destruction of our way of life.
I know that Freedom isn’t free (I know because I’ve read the military families bumper stickers) but it certainly shouldn’t be driven by fear and that’s what I think we have now – people so afraid of the unknown they want to go back in time to a US that was less free, a US that was full of distrust and discrimination, a US that we’ve outgrown.
Freedom is not a natural byproduct of fear.
Since 9/11 there have been few moments when the world came together and believed in a better tommorow – the first time was right after the attacks when the whole world mourned with us and the second was when the whole world cheered when Barack Obama was elected as President of the United States. As a nation we’ve squandered away the better parts of these moments of hope, we’ve allowed war to encompass our plans for the future, we’ve allowed McCarthy like politicians stop progress, we’ve allowed FEAR to guide us.
Is there still a chance that we can live again on the dream of a better tomorrow? Yes, but that means today we have to stand up and face the fears. No longer can we sit idly by and watch the politicians cater to the rich, no longer can we allow our own infrastructure to collapse while re-building other nations, no longer is it “somebody elses problem”.
Want the loss of life from September 11 to mean something? Want to believe again in a land of the free and a home of the brave? Face the fear, don’t believe the lies, learn a little about the politicians and talk show hosts you so blindly follow. Be the change – such a cliche but one that needs to be said today, tomorrow and forever more.
We lost a lot ten years ago maybe it’s time we took it back.