Probably THE most game changing event of my 5+ decades of living happened on 9/11/2001. While the shock of what we viewed that morning on our television sets around the world stays etched in our psyche probably for the rest of our days, I believe it is what has happened in the 10 years since that will be determining the true meaning of that fateful day.
Here are a few reactions of note written today either in my emails or on Facebook:
Taking nothing away from the solemnity of this date nor to politicize it...but I do believe we Americans must continue to examine the results of our actions-reactions to this travesty. Has war, retribution and revenge really solved anything so far? At what cost have we responded...not only economically, but emotionally and morally? Is our country truly safer and better off because of our government`s actions post 9/11? Sometimes the "human" or emotional reaction may not always be the BEST one. More questions than answers for me...
My friend Dave wrote:
It has been 10 years since Osama bin Laden changed America forever. He changed it for the worse because the United States on 9/11/2001 went from being a United States into being in the Fearful States. We, the citizens of the U.S. have given politicians unprecedented power to undermine the freedom, liberty and ideals that the all true U.S. patriots believe are the essence of our uniqueness and strength as a country.
We are now subjected to more searches and seizures while our Constitutional protections have declined. At Airports the norm of business today is to be searched like a common criminal, the IRS has tightened down to the point where U.S. citizens and banks must report all foreign banking and our financial transactions are being watched by “Big Brother” continuously . There are now warrantless electronic surveillance on all U.S. Citizens including electronic eavesdropping on cell phone calls and emails by the National Security Agency (with the total knowledge and agreement of the President). If anyone points out that privacy rights are being taken away the politicians call them “political agitators” or “potential terrorists” and not a true American.
In 2004 Osama bin Laden in a videotaped message said that his policy was to take “America to the point of bankruptcy” America has allowed this, through the politicians in Washington D.C. to turn this prophecy into a reality.
What can all “patriotic Americans” do to turn the tide on what has taken place over the last 10 years? The idea that many Americans have shared are simple and takes courage. True patriots must become active in promoting the same principles of our Founding Fathers by restoring the spirit that all individuals are endowed with the unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The only function of government is to insure those rights. If the politicians don’t see this as their mission then we need to hire new ones, through the power of the ballot box, who are dedicated to this purpose.
In the famous movie, “Network” which was made in 1976, Howard Beale (played by Peter Finch) said,
“I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth, banks are going bust, and shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV's while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be …All I know is that first you've got to get mad. You've got to say, 'I'm a HUMAN BEING….My life has VALUE!' …I want
you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, 'I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE'…Then we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis.”
Now is the time for us to get mad and take back our country. We need to restore the essence of America which is so eloquently put in the Pledge of Allegiance, “'I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”.
In pursuing a balanced perspective and voice about what has transpired this past decade in reaction to 9/11...I quote former President George W. Bush from his farewell speech at the end of his term:
“As the years passed, most Americans were able to return to life much as it had been before 9/11. I never did.”
“Afghanistan has gone from a nation where the Taliban harbored al Qaeda and stoned women in the streets to a young democracy that is fighting terror and encouraging girls to go to school.”
“Iraq has gone from a brutal dictatorship and a sworn enemy of America to an Arab democracy at the heart of the Middle East and a friend of the United States.”
“Under one (belief system), a small band of fanatics demands total obedience to an oppressive ideology, condemns women to subservience, and marks unbelievers for murder. The other system is based on the conviction that freedom is the universal gift of almighty God, and that liberty and justice light the path to peace. Advancing this belief is the only practical way to protect our citizens.”
“If America does not lead the cause of freedom, that cause will not be led.”
“Good and evil exist in this world, and between the two there can be no compromise. Murdering the innocent to advance an ideology is wrong every time, everywhere. Freeing people from oppression and despair is eternally right.”
So many emotions, so many viewpoints and so much that is still not clear about status in our war against "terrorism". After almost 3 years of President Obama and a new administration, the outcome in Afghanistan in restoring order and long term stability for ALL people there seems none too sure. While both Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden have been "taken out" by our much more powerful military complex...we continue to be under yellow and red "security alerts" at various times.
We still have a Patriot Act that has been extended basically eliminating Habeas Corpus provisions of our historic legal code. While on one hand we don`t want Terrorists and foreigners using our liberty against us within our borders...it is quite another thing to limit the liberties of your own citizens to "protect them". Our federal government unfortunately has used their increased unlimited powers to attack privacy and financial freedoms of its own citizens, and now quite frankly finds itself in a very defensive position of keeping up it entitlement programs to its masses of citizens including the thousands more maimed or supporting the survivors of those brave soldiers who have lost their lives in foreign battle...primarily because so much money and resources have been expended to hunt down and kill terrorists abroad. The collateral damage has been HUGE.
While it feels quite human for us to want revenge for the blood spilled on our soils that fateful day of 9/11 2001...I continue to look for continuity in our national moral compass. Many people in my network say the USA is a "Christian" nation. This has always made me uncomfortable since I was very young, as even then I realized that many "Americans" were not "Christians"...and I thought our country had equal rights for ALL. The other paradox for me on that issue is my historic understanding of Jesus teachings...such as "turn the other cheek", "love your enemies and do good to them who despise you" and "revenge is mine sayeth your God". Yet...revenge and anger is a very vivid part of our national psyche...and I admit that day I wanted revenge as well.
Now, 10 years later, we have killed off most of the leadership of that day`s events. It seems for every one we put away, perhaps 10 more become "operatives" right behind them. As has often been said and written about this conflict, this is an "ideology" war of religions and ruling systems. As I see us so terribly weakened economically and otherwise after this ten year struggle, I have to wonder if it really HAS been worth it. Have we truly avenged those thousands of Americans who died that terrible day...OR...have we fallen right into the sacrificial hands of the Bin Ladens and other ideological enemies who stated from the outset they planned to take us down from the inside out?
I fear we may not be winning this war as simply or clearly as we like to think. I am beginning to think President Bush` quote Murdering the innocent to advance an ideology is wrong every time, everywhere. Freeing people from oppression and despair is eternally right...needs to be turned around in support of the American people. It is time to release the American people from the oppression and despair inflicted by this huge beast of government and institutions who have taken over our lives...in response to 9/11. And we have let them...