I was in my bedroom getting dressed for work when the DJ on my favorite radio station cut into the music for a special announcement. A plane had been seen flying close to one of the buildings in the World Trade Center, and there was.some sort of explosion. I was annoyed that they had cut into a song I liked and changed the station. When the new station was talking about the same plane having crashed, I turned off the radio. I may have been slightly self-absorbed at 18. But I blame my mother: she always used to tell me how pretty I was.
Anyway, I had to be at work soon, so I finished getting ready and went downstairs. “Mom, you might wanna turn on the news. There’s some kind of plane crash or something in New York City.” And then I went to Jane’s Market.
People were acting really weird there. Some were frantic. Others were crying. And the manager had the radio tuned to news of what was going on. After a couple hours, no one had come into the store, so they locked up and sent us home. I was annoyed; it meant I would get several hours less pay for the week. (My mom also used to congratulate me for doing a “good job” fairly often.)
Looking back, I am slightly ashamed for my nonchalance about the whole thing. I feel for those who lost their loved ones – I really do. And I realize now what a huge effect the catastrophe had on so many people.
But part if me still wants to yell at everyone:
“But it’s not supposed to happen in America.”
Why the heck not? Are we really so naive as to think we’re immune to attack? Sure, America may have been founded by moralistic men, and we may be accepting and tolerant and willing to compromise on behalf of anothers’ beliefs. But that doesn’t mean those we accept and tolerate have to like us. It is, in fact, precisely because of our religious heritage that the attack on September 11 happened. And I sincerely doubt that the agnostic culture we’ve been developing will in any way affect the view other nations have of us.
Americans have in many ways become more community-focused since that day. It seems that being made aware of our vulnerability made us a little less self-absorbed on the whole. That’s great! We need to also allow this event to open our eyes to the devastation that continues around us.
In Sudan, around 2.5 million innocents have been slaughtered in the name of religion or racial purity, in my lifetime alone.
It is estimated that between one and two million CHILDREN will be sold into slavery in the next 12 months. Most of them will be used for sexual purposes. Some of this will happen in our own beloved country.
People all over the world are dying for lack of clean water or food, even though the monthly cost of saving them is less than most couples spend on one dinner or a movie.
As tragic as 9-11 was, there is nothing we can do to change what has already happened.
So what can we do?
What we can do is work towards changing the future.
We can stand up for the rights of those whose rights are being denied.
We can seek out those who need help, both in our own communities and around the world.
We can speak out to raise awareness of the suffering and hardships that our fellowmen (and women) are subject to every day.