Today is September 11th.
It was 15 years ago that America was attacked, systematically, in three bold strikes, using airplanes. One hit the Pentagon, and the other 2 hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.
Most any of us who were alive then can tell you where they were when “it” happened. My social media feeds are saturated with memories. In years past I’ve recounted my own remembrance of “where were you.” I, myself, have urged my fellow Americans to “Remember the Maine!”
But here’s the thing, the unpopular opinion.
The terrorists won.
Hear me out before you nest my neck on the guillotine block.
We vowed that day, and in the days that followed, to unify, to stand together as Americans, with one voice, as one nation, indivisible. Where are we now, as opposed to 15 years ago? We’re still fractured. We’re not unified. We’re terrified.
That’s the very definition of terrorism. To instill terror in someone, and in such a way that they’ll always be afraid. That’s what we’ve become. We aren’t confident as a nation. We don’t stand together. We react with an irrational anger that’s born of fear.
We rip each other apart, on social media, in person, and like swarming piranhas, we feed off the dead or wounded until there isn’t even a bone left.
Look at this presidential campaign, how it’s polarized people. We’ve got a man refusing to help a stranded woman, because her bumper sticker endorsed a person he’s against. He freely admitted it, and it just didn’t matter to him that this was a person, not just in need of help, but who was paying for it. All he saw was a political difference.
We’ve got children who receive notes threatening them with lynching, because they wore a football jersey of someone whom their parents have told them is a worthless piece of unpatriotic shit when he used his freedom to silently protest against police brutality.
Unity? You couldn’t put a Democrat and a Republican together in a life raft and expect either of them to survive. They’d be too busy trying to each figure out a way to be the ‘only’ survivor to ever work together to row themselves to safety.
Don’t get me wrong. America’s great when it comes to tragedy. We will work together when crises happen. It’s the aftermath that tells the truth. We don’t keep seeing each other as human souls, we go right back to the same paranoid, suspicious, rabid pack of hyenas, looking to scavenge what we can from everyone else, and DAMNED if anyone speaks out against the status quo.
We didn’t go back to flying confidently. We endure the embarrassing searches, humiliating as it can be. We don’t look out for each other’s kids. We film it and publicly shame them, and even when proven wrong, don’t you dare apologize. Oh no, you have no right to expect that.
Al-Quaeda accomplished what they set out to do 15 years ago. They terrorized us.
And we still react as if we’re afraid.
I don’t know the solution. I just see what is going on around me. But sooner or later, we have got to stop reacting, and start living again. We need to look at a person and see just a person. Not a “black” person, or a “white” person, not assuming something negative about how they may have gotten here.
What is, is. What exists, exists. Terry Goodkind wrote those words in one of his books. I keep reminding myself of that. It’s a good piece of wisdom.