9/11 reflection

Seven years ago, I was driving to work on a beautiful fall day when I heard on NPR that a plane had collided into one of the World Trade Towers in New York City.  At the time, it was not known if this was a small plane or a large plane.  Soon we were to know the horrific truth that this was no accidental collision but a well orchestrated plan of attack as a second plane aimed for the second tower.  Fear loomed large that day. 

I lived only 65 miles from the center of Manhattan in Danbury, CT.  There were many people that I knew who worked in the towers or nearby and by mysterious grace they were fine.  I decided to keep the agency I ran open for business in case any of our clients needed someone to talk about what they were observing  / feeling.   In retrospect, I needed to keep the doors open so I could talk about what I was observing /feeling. 

A couple of things happened in Danbury that I am still very proud.  As the news unfolded and we learned this was done by arab terrorists, the Jewish community offered escorts to the women of the Islamic mosque in town to enable them to do their shopping.  It was evident that a backlash on anyone of Arabic descent was going to occur.   Jews and Christians attended the Islamic mosque in prayer and as watchful eyes for any potential hate crime to occur.   The interfaith community gathered in a way that had not happened as fully before.  Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Unitarian Universalists, and I am sure a few more faiths gathered in prayer representing all these faiths.  I was proud of Danbury’s response.  In other communities to vent ones frustration and anger, hate crimes increased against Arabic people; yet in Danbury we were able to say no to this sort of irrational response to something so horrific.  I believe we are better for it.

I wish I could say that Danbury’s response mirrored the country’s response.   Sadly, I cannot.  The days and months that followed, I saw our government use every fear inducing tactic imaginable to increase the anxiety of the American People against a nebulous enemy.  Our government whipped us into such an anti-Arab anti-Islam sentiment that when we were told that a dictator known for his vile and hateful cruelty against his own people was somehow connected to the airplane hijackings aimed at destroying American lives and symbols of our democracy, we bowed and said Amen to our government’s plan to wipe them from the face of the earth.   

A few of us felt aghast at such a plan.  I joined the millions who gathered in NYC to protest going to war against Iraq. The day we gathered the US government raised the terrorist alert to Red to try to keep us from speaking and gathering.  We were not all allowed to join the site of the protest at the UN building on the east side.  I was with people who were sidelined by police in a more central location in the city.  So we were cut off from what the speakers were saying.   And at some appointed hour, the police came in with busses and horses to round us up should we not disburse.  Instead of announcing by bull horn that the protest at the UN building was over, to disburse, we were pushed by the encroaching police in riot gear and on horses against the buildings.  Children were separated from their families under the crush.  The crush was to force feed us like a river down pre-determined channels.  It worked but the image remains in my mind as to where our country is heading as these are the tactics used by regimes that do not tolerate freedom of speech or the right to assembly. 

In the years since the beginning of this unjust war against an innocent people who we now know had nothing to do with the events on 9/11.  I feel betrayed by my own government.  The government has lied to us repeatedly and continues to instill fear and hatred into our hearts.  It has used this event to turn against our neighbors from the south who seek to live a better life. Fear has been carefully and manipulatively manufactured against undocumented workers and families.  And we used 9/11 to turn them into enemies of our nation when they are not enemies at all.   Homeland Security has become misguided in its mission to protect this country from terrorists.  Instead it sees all immigrants as a sort of terrorist and encourages the citizens of this country to do the same.   Hatred and xenophobia are at an all time high in this country of bountiful. 

I shudder when I hear candidates for the highest office of the land state their beliefs that Iraq and Iran are the battle grounds in the spiritual fight of good and evil.  I shudder when I hear candidates state that it is God’s will that this battle be fought by us today. I shudder when I hear candidates state that this is a war between Christianity and Islam.  Because these are words that have been used by dictators and totalitarian leaders for centuries to coerce their people into submission. 

It was not so long ago, that America saw the horrors of one such dictator who marched across Europe, rounding up 11 million Jews, gays, and political opponents sending them to concentration camps to be gassed or tortured to death.  The argument used: it was a war between Christianity and Judaism.  We were in denial that this could happen.  We are in denial that it is still happening in parts of our world today.  Yet, this dictator used language of faith for his arguments and the religious people gave ascent because they were also fearful.  Fear is a powerful tool for submission of the masses.  Fear if not checked will crush a person’s / a nation’s spirit just like a dog who has been abused who comes whimpering at the call of its owner. 

So as I mourn today in remembrance of the thousands of lives lost on 9/11, as I mourn the thousands of Americans lost in Afghanistan and Iraq, as I mourn the even more thousands of Afghanis and Iraqis whose lives unknowingly were going to be caught up in the aftermath of this day, seven years ago;  I also mourn the loss of my country that has allowed its will to be crushed by a deceitful government.  This is not what America hopes to be.  These are not the ideals we proclaim loudly to the world. 

I pray for America’s repentance in its arrogance in thinking it is the world’s savior. I pray for America’s people that we will let go of paralyzing fear and embrace love and compassion for other nation’s people.  I pray that America will once again capture the vision of its integrity and dignity and respond from this core and not from deceit and shear military power.   I pray that America will begin to understand that with great gifts and riches are also given great responsibility and accountability to the world community.  That this abundance is to be shared not hoarded.  Not doled out as charity where the poorer  nations grow reliant on it or beholden to do our biddings, but shared in a manner that enables self-empowerment and development of emerging equal partners in the global community.  I pray that America will turn from its domestic sins of racism, xenophobia, and corporate greed to enable all of its citizens; its people, its wildlife, its vegetation to thrive within its borders.   Blessings, SerenityHome

Published in: on September 11, 2008 at 10:30 am  Comments Off on 9/11 reflection  
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