I didn’t watch any of the news coverage about 9/11 yesterday. I didn’t participate in any of the events. I didn’t want to muddy my memory. Because the media likes to do that – they like to tell us what to remember and what to forget. But most of all, they like to tell us what to be afraid of.
What I remember of the day of the event is this: everyone checked in on their loved ones. Every person who was in harm’s way and was able to contact their family did so, not telling them to avenge their deaths, but to tell them how much they loved them. These people were about to die and they knew what was really important in the world – love. Those people on the plane who took it down before it could hit the capital did so, not out of anger, but from love – to make sure that their fate would not have to be shared by others and to limit the damage done a nation of people already in shock and pain. I remember the outpouring of love that came from people all over the world. The internet was filled with messages of love and condolences. Never had we as a country had so much support from the world.
I remember people taking time off from their jobs to go to New York and help in the search for survivors and in the chaos of families trying to find each other. I remember massage therapists and other healers dropping everything to go take care of the rescue workers who were working around the clock. I remember an outpouring of cash support from those who could do nothing else. I remember candlelight vigils where neighbors who never spoke to one another gathered together in prayer, grief and hope that others would be found alive.
I remember watching two days of news coverage – I watched for all but a few hours a day, waiting. I was waiting to see if anyone would ask the single question that I knew would reduce the fear and allow us to feel as though any of this made sense – “why did they do it?” But not one station did. Not one reporter talked about the effect that the US has had on the Middle East. Not one explained why we are so hated in those circles and why anyone would want to kill innocent Americans. They didn’t try to explain a rational reason for it because it would make us look at ourselves in that moment, and that doesn’t make good TV. They didn’t do it because the media is run by the same multinational corporations that benefit from our actions overseas. And so they left us, stunned in our grief with nothing to hold onto, but the idea that these men were mad. And madness has no bounds, cannot be controlled, and is to be feared. And this is where they wanted us.
In the wake of the attacks, the “Patriot Act” was passed which severely limited our freedoms in this country. The people in government used our moment of shock and grief to railroad us into letting go of some of the very freedoms that we as a country have sacrificed so much to achieve.
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety,
deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin
And then the witch hunt began. The media admitted that the airplane pilots and Osama Bin Laden were intelligent individuals. They talked about the planning it took to pull off an operation of this nature. But still, they never asked why. And so our leaders took it upon themselves to draw us into a war that still plagues us today. They made up potential weapons of mass destruction every time our interest flagged on the subject. – something to keep our fear engaged. I remember the day that Bin Laden’s sons were killed and people celebrated the news. That was the saddest day I can remember. The day that we as a country celebrate the killing of a man’s entire family is a day that I weep for us – and I did.
“An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” – Mahatma Ghandi
And here’s where I’m really concerned. The coverage I saw prepping us for the “memorial celebration” was combined with “potential terrorist threats”. Instead of memorializing the dead and remembering the love, they were looking to amp up the fear factor once more.
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. ” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
And so I say this to you: this is not the end of devastating events. Hurricane Katrina taught us that just a few years later. There will always be something terrible that happens. It is not the event that is at issue, it is our reaction to it. There are two worlds at war in this moment – the world of fear and the world of love. It is up to you which world you live in. Those who died that day made their wishes clear: they chose love. Which one will you choose?