Sunday, September 11, 2011

REMEMBER FOR ALWAYS


On this, the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, many people have been pondering the meaning of the attacks and the legacy that they have left the country.

This author has many conflicted feelings about the events of that fateful (and fatal) day. Waking up like any other day, this author saw the spectacle unfold on national television (mostly Good Morning America) before heading to work. Work was at an office building (converted from a defunct small hospital) near downtown Detroit. Everyone in the office was abuzz about what the events meant: the unpredictability, the "prophecy", and whether there would be a local analog to the chaos that was expanding in New York City, Washington, D.C., and rural Pennsylvania.

This author's college classes were canceled for that day.

This author felt deep anger at those responsible, a coiling frustration at trying to comprehend the depth of depravity that could compel someone to concieve of, let alone execute, the mass-murder of thousands. What yawning abyss lay where there should be a soul?

That the primary progenitor of the attacks has recently joined the ranks of the deceased may bring a sense of closure for many, but the emotional impact of the events on that day will resonate long after all those who were alive to observe it have passed on. The ambitions of madmen frequently leave a poisoned legacy.

In the span of mere hours, thousands of families violently lost members; those same families also gained new members, regardless of blood relation.

This author felt heart-rending shame in observing the seemingly unceasing carnage being wrought and the rescue efforts, knowing that he could do little to pragmatically assist from nearly 1,000 miles away.

This author fretfully pondered the local reactions, considering that this part of the country-- Metro Detroit-- hosts the largest concentration of people of Arabic descent outside of the Middle East. Were there 'sleeper' factions of Al-Qaeda here? If so, when and where would they strike? What will happen to the people who live in Chaldeantown on the near-northeast side of Detroit, or Dearborn to the west?

This author saw American flags conspicuously flown and shown in and around dozens of area homes and businesses-- especially shopkeepers of Middle Eastern descent.

This author saw, read or heard friends, strangers, and family members openly endorse what would ostensibly be considered a suspension of civil rights for the sake of national security. This author also saw, read or heard friends, strangers and family openly endorse unfettered surveillance, open-ended detainment, and mass deportation of people of Arabic descent.

In the years since the events of September 11, 2011, this author has seen both an immediate and gradual rise in reactionary thought and action from both ends of the political spectrum; base jingoism masquerading as patriotism; selfish resource-hoarding, fear-mongering replacing reasoned debate, and political expedience bypassing policy that uplifts the vulnerable among us.

This author has also seen an undercurrent of person-to-person outreach, thoughtful inquiry, volunteerism, community-minded empathy, reasoned analysis, and bravery in the face of daunting opposition and danger. Despite the efforts of the ill-intentioned and the misguided, hope endures.

These trends continue, and this author will continue to document, initiate and respond to them.

Whatever the faith tradition or socio-political worldview (or the lack thereof) of anyone reading this, a revisitation of the Golden Rule seems appropriate, especially in this politically contentious time: Honored readers, please take the time out to read it, ponder it, and apply.

http://www.jcu.edu/philosophy/gensler/goldrule.htm

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