Another Sept. 11 has passed, and in its harrowing wake terrorism has once again taken the forefront of evening news and dinner table conversation.
Each year this day holds an especially tender place in my heart. I was a New Yorker, my father worked for law enforcement, though I was only a kindergardener, the attack had a markedly profound impact on my life. I have essentially spent all of my formative years trying to make sense of it all, trying to take something away from it.
This year personal obligations prevented me from tuning in to the 9/11 news specials, media coverage and reflection services, but alas, I knew what would happen anyway.
In one breath, grey-haired politicians would address a lachrymose crowd, asking them to put their hands over their hearts and pray for the fallen. In their next, they would use these casualties to advance a self-serving and highly damaging interventionist foreign policy. Following, policy makers from both sides of the aisle, with a swoop of a pen, would pass legislation that would take away civil liberties from the well-meaning public under the guise of patriotism and for a false sense of security. Isn’t that always the way it works in these United States?
Fifteen years later, countless lives have been affected. Families have been torn apart and entire cities have been destroyed. What do we have to show for their sacrifice?
If there’s one thing these past years should have taught us, it’s fear is perplexingly addicting. Patriotism is misleading. Violence and terrorism have a concerning way of scaring us into voluntarily forfeiting our freedom.
Post-Sept.11 fear has resulted in a war in which everyone has lost. It has resulted in a corrosion of our Fourth Amendment rights to privacy and a Patriot Act which ironically is the least patriotic thing our country could have done. These actions have garnered ambiguous hate for largely peaceful religions and cultures. And though our people have largely become more hostile and our country has become more interventionist in exchange for a sense of security, we have not become more safe.
If you’re reading this, I challenge you not to play into the media’s narrative which is set with purpose by self-serving politicians in order to take our liberties. When they say we must expand our influence, I challenge you to advocate a peaceful and non-interventionist foreign policy approach. When they espouse hate toward any broad group of human beings, I challenge you to love. When they say we must sacrifice our freedom for security (or really essentially anything else), I challenge you to stand by your liberty.
Love people. Seek truth. Be brave. Protect the rights we are so lucky to have here in America and set such a great example for the rest of the world.
This is how we honor the fallen.