As all of the 9/11 memorial programs start to air again on television, I’m reminded of those who have been lost and the brave souls who tried to save them, many of whom gave their own lives in the process. Whether or not you lost a loved one in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, on United Airlines Flight 93, or at the Pentagon on the morning of September 11, 2001, we were all directly affected by this heinous act of violence. The aftermath has influenced the policies of state and has enabled the war with the Middle East to continue, which has deeply impacted our economy and invaded the personal freedoms that so many of us take for granted.
While it’s definitely important to remember and honor those whose lives were lost, I believe that doing so is no longer the purpose of airing the “memorial” programs. The television stations air these shows in hopes of boosting ratings because they recognize that people will watch them. Knowing this, our government cashes in on the insatiability of the public to eat up everything the media feeds them and it uses this feeding frenzy as propaganda to promote support for funding the war despite a failing economy and ever-growing unemployment. Under the guise of honoring the dead, they only fuel hatred for the countries the US leaders deem responsible rather than providing any kind of healing for the grief of our people.
Is it possible to honor the victims of these tragedies without giving so much power to the resulting hatred, ignorance, and bigotry? Can we be patriotic without becoming obnoxiously over-zealous about it? Do any of us really know all of the facts behind what led up to the attacks? Certainly there are plenty of conspiracy theories for people to glom onto and more than enough people with whom anyone on either side of the story can place the blame for how things unfolded, but is it fair to the memory of the people who died to continue empowering war-mongering actions and fueling the paranoia that has gripped our nation? Is it fair to those who were left behind to grieve?
Our nation needs to heal and move forward.
We should celebrate life now in the present without adopting a get-over-it attitude. The validity of this event should never be challenged or denied because that insults the memory of the victims, just as the anti-Semitic people today try to minimize the genocide of millions of Jewish people during the Holocaust of World War II. Sir Winston Churchill said, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Therefore, we can’t learn from history if we deny it, yet we can’t move forward if we wallow in it. The past belongs in the past, but the lessons learned from it must be applied in daily living.
So what exactly did we learn from these tragic events?
We learned to distrust anyone who’s not American, as well as people of various ethnic backgrounds who have resided in this country for years or even generations. We’ve perfected paranoia and learned that our freedoms can be infringed upon by the very government that was elected to protect and serve them. Privacy and security aren’t just words; they’re at the heart of everything we over-protect yet have already lost to a certain degree to that same government – our own. While we’re waving our American flags in the faces of people who have helped to build our country, we arrogantly snub the rest of the world. We have allowed our children to learn the art of war early through video games while the military glorifies war with recruitment commercials that target those same youngsters with an exaggerated sense of patriotism, if that’s even possible.
What has changed over the last ten years?
Have our lives improved at all since we’ve gone after the bad guys? Are we really any safer? The very notion of waging war on terror is ludicrous; terrorism will never be completely gone from this world. People have engaged in terroristic acts since the beginning of time and I suspect there will always be those who will resort to such tactics in the future. Instead of a swift and efficient retaliation in the name of justice, our government had a temper tantrum, drew a line in the sand and dared everyone else to cross it. Our troops have remained on foreign soil and occupied other countries for a decade all in the name of fighting terror and searching for weapons of mass destruction in all the wrong places. Sounds a little like the lyrics of a bad country western song.
This is, of course, nothing new for the United States. During the McCarthy era, many American citizens were suspected of being communists or communist sympathizers. Substitute the word communist for terrorist and you’ve got history repeating itself. I could cite similar incidents in world history to prove this point, like the mass hysteria during the witch hunts that made its way from European soil to the new world. Witch, communist, terrorist… a rose by any other name…
Whatever you take away from these 9/11 tributes, never forget that lives were arbitrarily sacrificed by the perpetrators of the attacks for little more than to make a point. Please don’t deny that it ever happened or expect people to just get over it. Don’t become a victim yourself of propaganda; question the motives of the media and the government the next time you watch a documentary.
The best way to honor the victims is not by watching a television show steeped in sensationalism, but by striving to live a life of true freedom.