Here we are at another anniversary of September 11, 2001, and everywhere I look, another coverage and a reminder of the day that I long to forget. Mind you, it’s not because I lost a family member, a friend or a close acquaintance on that day. The only person I knew who was anywhere near the World Trade Center that morning was a coworker who was on his way there for a meeting … fortunately he was en route and not in the two towers.
Nevertheless, as a former New Yorker who’d lived through that day, the trauma of September 11, 2001 isn’t something that is easily forgotten, and the endless analysis and reminders are like having an excruciating discussion about a tragic end of a relationship with someone that you really loved, year after year for a decade … it’s simply exhausting.
Of course, another part of me understands all too well why the discourse over 9/11 still continues, especially for those who have lost loved ones, and because in a way, September 11, 2001 has impacted the world like no other event in history. More importantly, I believe that people who have sacrificed their lives to save others that day must be remembered and honored … forever.However, for the majority of people, the discussion of September 11, 2001 holds no more significance than a conversation about the Kardashians wedding, or the outrage that they express is simply a reflection of their anger towards a generalize “bad” or “evil” in the world.
I remember that on the 1st anniversary of September 11, I was traveling with my parents to a small village near Geneva, and on our way there, we’d encountered bad traffic at the border of Switzerland and France. When we’d finally arrived at the inn that night, I’d explained to the inn keeper who was annoyed about our late arrival that our commute was delayed due to an unexpected traffic at the border. He then proceeded to lecture me on the fact that the security at the border was heightened because it was September 11, and that we should have been more vigilant in acknowledging the threat that this day imposed on the world … and on his tiny village in the middle of nowhere in France.
Sadly, one of the terrible consequences and the lasting effects of September 11, 2001 has been the fear, and even the people in this little village felt that they too could be victims of the next terrorist attack. And unfortunately, this is the sentiment that still dominates much of the 9/11 discourse today … blind fear that it could happen anywhere and everywhere.
People, especially in America and in Europe, feel a sense of vulnerability that we’ve never felt before, and the invincibility that we’d enjoyed prior to September 11, 2011 had dissipated. It was as if the bubble we’d enclosed ourselves in had just burst exposing all of us to the ugly realities of life everywhere else.
Since then, understanding why or how these terrorist attacks occurred (or can occur again) have become insignificant. Instead, the focus became getting the “evil” perpetrators, and in a true Rambo-like fashion, we went in search of the “bad” guys … for nearly a decade.
None of the events that occurred after September 11, 2001, the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, the so-called security measures that took place in the US, and even the death of Osama Bin Laden will make me forget what I’d experienced that day in NY. I don’t think the world is any safer or more dangerous, nor do I feel completely at ease getting on an airplane, walking into a major landmark or being stuck in an underground mass transit (something that took most New Yorkers quite some time to get over).
The world is as it has always been; only now, we are more aware of the things that the rest of the world has known for some time. Our liberties and freedom are not in danger because of a group of fanatics or religious differences; it’s the continuation and propagation of poverty, inequity and the marginalization that has strengthened the hatred and the division in the world, and until we understand these issues and begin to address them, all the security measures and barriers between countries are not going to keep us truly safe.
As for me, September 11, 2001 brought about a renewed sense of appreciation for life. Remembering all the victims, I am extremely thankful that no one I knew was in the two towers that day or on the planes that crashed. Perhaps that’s more of a reason for me not to lament on the events of 9/11. Like the majority of New Yorkers who’d witness the event, I would rather just move on and continue with the life that I’m so fortunate to have.