While I mourn the losses and honor the valiance of 9/11, I also carry grave concerns about the changes that have been wrought upon my country by those that would use it as a tool to bring out our worst selves.
If you remember that day vividly, etched on your psyche, indelibly printed on your memory, playing again and again the stark visual images; if it is part of your very identity as an American ….
… then the terrorists won. Prior to 9-11 we were free in spirit, soul, and heart; a trusting and helpful people, laughing and sharing, building international alliances based on peace and prosperity. But the dark and narrow goals of the military & police industries (both foreign and domestic) since that day have been to keep you & I constantly fearful, divided, and vigilant for what is very very rare.
Be afraid of your TV. More American die of falling furniture than terrorism. Be much more afraid of lightning, and domestic owners of handguns, orders of magnitude more lethal to your neighbors than foreign cells. Be way more fearful of drowning, and house fires, car accidents and heart disease. Allow the police to do their job, but expect them to understand our world.
Let us let 9-11 become a part of our culture; like Pearl Harbor, the Titanic, the Ladies Garment Factory; the great Chicago fire, even the JFK assassination. A shared national sadness, but no longer a defining national moment requiring current foreign or domestic policy; no longer requiring lost sleep or neighbor to distrust neighbor.
Be more afraid of foreign countries manipulating our political and economic processes to their advantage. Be more afraid of multi-national corporations that hold no allegiance to any country; that ship jobs, wealth, and assets off shore; that upend lives and cities at a moment’s notice (in any country); to save even pennies on a thousand dollars. Be more afraid of disgruntled Americans, buying into tribalism, and being fed a steady diet of messages that there exists a “we” and a “they”, and there is only so much to go around; especially those armed beyond sense, feeling desperate, living in a cocoon of feedback & fear. Be afraid of our entire media, owned by the richest, telling us to ignore their advantage & instead fear and hate the poorest.
Let us today become an America that strives for that long ago vision where each of us is our best selves. Let us respect this tragedy, whose anniversary was yesterday, but let it become a moment from a different time. Let us remember that to be American is to be a shining beacon on a hill, and a sanctuary to the poor & fearful around the world “striving to be free”.
We are a world of plenty when each has a share; of health & safety, education, arts, toil & rest. When each has some, none feel desperate, and all can strive forward to bring to all the best part of each; be it toil, discovery, nurturing, or improvements.
Let us remember our most important freedom: “Freedom from Fear”