Do you remember where you were when you found out about the terror attacks on September 11, 2001? I didn’t find out until school dismissed for the day and my mom picked us up. She had the radio in the car tuned to the local NPR station and I sat in shock the entire ride home. I was 14 and just starting ninth grade. At home, I kept the radio on NPR all evening listening to it being discussed. I was terrified. What if a plane plunged into our house in the middle of the night one night while we were sleeping and we all died? What if, while I was at school one day, a plane dropped out of the sky and blew us to kingdom come? I didn’t sleep for a few nights.
I lived in a rather small city at that time. It only had roughly 70,000 residents. I now live in America’s second largest city. I’ve accepted that the threat of terror attacks is something I’ll have to deal with if I want to live here. I’ve also come to realize that Middle Eastern-looking people aren’t necessarily the biggest threat to our well-being and safety. Being married to a man of Northern African/Middle Eastern descent has taught me that you cannot always judge a book by its cover (you have got to love that old adage.) Right now, our biggest safety threat lies in the very people that most are least concerned about – far right wing evangelicals with guns who want to “exercise” their Second Amendment “right” to bear arms and openly resist our government.
I’m not going to make this a long-winded post about them, though. I feel that would be disrespectful to the 3,000+ victims who lost their lives 13 years ago today. The fact that yesterday evening our President told the American public that he wants to start yet another war in the Middle East tells me that we, the American people as a whole, still have not learned the lessons we should have learned years ago. I’m not saying we were wrong to go into Afghanistan and try to eradicate Al Qaeda. However, we should have learned that you cannot “rid” the world of evil, and when you set out to try to do so militarily, you only draw more people to their cause and create more groups like them. Therefore, I think we will end up regretting picking another fight with this new enemy, ISIS. I don’t have the answer to making the world a safer place and helping the people who are being slaughtered by them, but we are not the “good guys” over there. We slaughtered a lot of people needlessly in Iraq and Afghanistan and completely destroyed and disrupted their way of life. To think we could swoop in and be their savior is a very flawed viewpoint.
I mourn for the victims of all needless violence today. I’m also ashamed of my country’s handling of foreign affairs. As a “superpower”, we should be a lot more cautious of how we use our power and ensure we only use it for good. I fear we’re headed into another open-ended war with no good outcome. It will only wreak havoc on our economy yet again and cause destruction and mayhem where we do not need to cause it.
Today is a sad day.