Today is September 11th. A Tuesday even, just like it was 6 years ago. It’s a day that can hardly go unmarked. Many will talk about what the day means, I’m sure many already have. But others will just remember in silence.
I’m sad today about the events of that awful day. That shocking, appalling, mind-numbingly terrible day. I don’t have the right words to describe the tragedy of that day, the grief of those who lost loved ones, the fear and hardship of those who died, or even of those who survived. I can mostly say that I am sad.
But I’m also sad about what’s happened to the world since then. Because even more people have suffered. More have died tragic and violent deaths. The loss continues.
In the hours and days after the news of the September 11th attacks broke, the world was a changed place. There was an outpouring of solidarity from people the world over. I was moved by the images of people in many countries displaying US flags, holding vigils, displaying signs with words of sympathy. “We are all Americans, today.” As an American by birth, I was humbled. I am humbled. There was the sense that many individuals who were critical of the US, hostile towards the US, even, overlooked our differences, and joined together in grief. More than anything, I felt the shared humanity.
Naive as it sounds, I thought that maybe that moment of shared humanity could lead towards peace. So much hostility was dropped in the face of such sadness, in the face of the horror and outrage, that I imagined the avenues of diplomacy opened.
Of course, I was wrong.
Instead, the attacks of September 11th were used by the US government as a license to wage war. The tragedy and brutality of that day have been used as a political tool, to spread fear and hatred. The result has been more tragedy and brutality. More fear and hatred.
So now my grief for the victims of September 11th is compounded. I grieve for victims in Afghanistan. I grieve for victims in Iraq. I grieve for the soldiers, American and other nationalities, who have lost their lives. I grieve for the pain and physical hardship, for the psychological traumas, that all of these people have gone through. That they continue to go through. I feel for all of their families. I feel for the refugees. I feel for the prisoners. And for the many, many others whose lives are impacted. And I am sick with worry that violence will continue to escalate. The murmurings of a war with Iran quite frankly scare the crap out of me.
There is too much to fear, too much to grieve for.
And on top of it all, I still carry grief for that lost opportunity to wage peace.