Philosophy with Attitude

On the Events of September 11, 2001

What can I say that hasn't already been said?

I didn't know anyone who died in NYC or DC. Not personally, anyway. There are a lot of people in my online communities who live in NY, and all of them are okay. They know a lot of people who were also okay. Some of them knew people who weren't okay. I've been listening to the radio almost constantly since Tuesday, but have only seen a few moments of video feed. That was enough. There are things that you can see that can never be described in words, and Tuesday's events and aftermath are among them. There are words that make me cry, though, like the woman the BBC interviewed hours after the towers collapsed. "What if [my husband] is buried somewhere, if he's dying and I can't be there to hold his hand..." And the woman who was homeschooling her kids, took them outside where they lay on the grass and looked at the clear, blue sky, told them they were safe, right here, right now, and then told them about what had happened that morning. When they read the lists of names and there are kids, babies, mothers and fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, lovers, and they tell the world how old they were, what they did for a living, but you *know* there was more to their lives than one could ever sum up in such a way, and now it's all gone.

I'm an atheist. Usually that's okay. This week, it hasn't been. People of faith are now finding comfort in believing that those who died went on to their reward, and that they'll meet again in the afterlife. They may also be comforted in thinking that the perpetrators who also died will get their due in eternal suffering. And those of faith have communities with which they can connect, people with shoulders they can cry on together, people with candles and vigils. They have some other reason for this mass tragedy, besides the hatred of some few for us many, something that their god had in mind when it allowed this to happen. They have the miracles of those who survived, and grace for those who didn't.

I don't. It was just senseless, meaningless, sorrowful, pitiful. I am heartened by the reaction of the survivors -- practically the whole planet -- which gives some small justification for my humanism. Yet it is terrible that it takes a tragedy of this scale to make us realize our common humanity, and terrible that some cannot, even now, recognize that, and take out their terror on those who seem different from them.

I don't know what to think about what Tuesday means for us. People say the world is different now, but it's the same place it always was; it's just that this time, the terrorists came to America instead of staying in Israel, Ireland, all those countries most Americans can't place on a map. It came home, instead of being Someone Else's Problem. And now it's going to be everyone's problem, if GWB has his way. Great -- another Bush war. I wonder how many will die this time, and what the consequences will be in ten years, as we deal with another American-funded fundamentalist.

Fuck. What happens now?

Well, it's September 11, 2002, and unless you've been living in a cave, you know what happened next. The period of foreign policy calm lasted a lot longer than I thought it would; I was actually pleasantly surprised that the Dubya administration waited as long as it did to invade Afghanistan. I was happy to see the Taliban go... though the cynic in me did recognize that it took an event on US soil before their true crimes -- those against their own people -- would be recognized and dealt with. I wish it had been a UN effort instead of a US one, and my inner cynic is also highly critical of the unilateralism the Dubya administration is still espousing.

As I write now, the news is full of the possibility of an attack on Iraq -- again, or still, depending on how you look at it, since the US has been bombing them for eleven years anyway. Not because Hussein has done anything new or anything; I guess it's just time that Dubya finishes Daddy's war once and for all. Perhaps I am mis-remembering, but didn't Dubya say a whole lot during his campaign about the US minding its own business under his leadership? Wasn't he the one who couldn't even name the heads of state of major world powers, and felt it wasn't important enough to worry about? Wasn't he opposed to being the world's policeman, and nation-building, and all that? I was going to write something sarcastic here, but I think his positions really speak for themselves.

If it's so important that a new government be installed in Iraq, I think that's something for the world, not just the US, to decide. This country may have the largest force of arms in the world, but might does not make right... no matter what Bush aides seem to think. Just because we can invade Iraq (again/still) doesn't mean that we should. I'm sure the people of Iraq would be far more greatful if the oil embargo were ended and they could have, oh, some reasonable living conditions, decent health care (eg, something that looks at least 20th century), food, and clean water. Definitely more greatful that having their population centers decimated yet again, in the name of deposing Hussein.

The radio waves today are full of rememberances and platitudes. TV probably is, too, but I'm not turning it on today, not even PBS. 3000 people died, and that still saddens me, but many more die daily in nations around the world (including even the United States) because they haven't the funds to provide for their people. We will spend billions and billions of dollars on war this year and the next (and no doubt the next, and the next...), but will that really improve the situation? Is it possible that some of that could be better spent on humanitarian aid, on helping people instead of killing them? I have no doubt that the Bush administration is making many more enemies than friends with its current strategy (if such it can even be called!), and I still fear for what the next few years will bring in response. Not in terms of more attacks on US soil (though they may occur), but for the world as a whole.

I guess we'll see in another year.

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