Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 Hoopla

The bombing of Pearl Harbor, Kennedy's assassination, landing on the Moon, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Columbine.

They say every generation is witness to a major historical event, one so overarching that you can ask any person 

"Where were you when ..." 

9/11 is supposedly that event for my generation - the day that forever altered the course of our history, changed our political landscape, and united a splintered country.

<rolls eyes>

Oh yes, I'm the blogger today that just rolled her eyes at such a sacred event.  Let me tell you why before you publicly brand me for having a flippant attitude.

Ten years ago, I was a senior in high school.  I was outside at band practice when the news broke.  It wasn't until I walked into 2nd period that I knew, in the words of a classmate, "someone is bombing America."

I had no idea what the World Trade Center was.  We had one Muslim family in town and they had a daughter who was close to my sister.  I thought the attack was to take down our banking system.  I simply didn't have a frame of reference for what happened that day. 

As a young adult in the wake of the event, however, I gained a better understanding of the impact of that day - it wasn't just about destroying two buildings and killing thousands of innocents.

There are people today honoring the dead, as they should.  I cannot imagine the horror of that kind of death.

There are those praising the rescue crews and volunteers, as they should.  Americans don't forget valor and honor in the face of a crisis.

There are those who will talk about the unifying effects of 9/11.  And THAT is what I have a point of contention with.

9/11 may have temporarily prompted the US to pull together, but that sense of unity quickly dissolved.

In my lifetime, I have watched with disdain a growing fissure in this country.  A sharp divide exists, prompted by a toxic climate that Americans themselves, not terrorists, continue to fuel.

Without getting into the whys and hows, just look at any aspect of politics, religion, or education.  Those conversations are tainted by disrespect, unyielding attitudes, and intolerance.

In a recent class of mine, the conversation turned political (quite accidentally by an off-hand comment by a student) and you could immediately see students taking up arms.  The air of the classroom became agitated and the mood took a turn for the worst.

To diffuse the tension, I said this to my students:

"I don't care where you land with politics or religion - it's really sad that we can't talk to each other anymore.  We've really lost something when we feel silenced, when we can't share our ideas for fear of being drowned out by a fellow human being."

I would like to see an attitude of respect and patience returned to this country.  A UU minister recently wrote, "True strength lies not in our ability to destroy our enemies, but in the sometimes difficult choice to turn away from violence and hatred."

He was probably referring to physical violence, but I see hateful words, violent rhetoric, and silencing looks as one of the more brutal repercussions of how our country has changed in recent years.

But change can be the result of collective individual actions. I believe that a mindset of mutual understanding is what we really need in times like these. 

It takes strong individuals to stand up against the tidal wave of ill-will that has permeated our nation. But I'm not going to let the difficultness of this task stop me. 


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