Today marks the thirteenth anniversary of the World Trade Center Attacks. I believe that if there’s a single day in modern history that marked the loss of innocence for my generation, the millennial generation, it’s definitely the day now known as ‘9/11’. Or at least, this is what should be clear to most people who consider themselves informed. What’s more true, however, is that everyone has been affected by 9/11; whether we’re aware of it or not, history binds each citizen of the world to another, indefinitely.
In 2014, neither the U.S nor the world is actually any safer following the ‘war on terror’ declared by then President Bush on September 11, 2001. In fact, not only is the U.S still at war in Iraq and Afghanistan (not to mention Pakistan, Yemen, and–in a matter of days–Syria and more), but it is also still mired in a spiritual and political crisis from within, as war abroad is intrinsic with war on a domestic level.
Simply put: as long as unchecked privilege, prejudice, and ignorance continue to inform the decisions made within our governments, and within our schools and universities, and within the work environments that we’re a part of, we will continue to lose our way from the common humanity that brought so many people of this country together on that tragic morning.
Rather than just commemorating 9/11 for the sake of entertaining patriotism, then, we should lend our attention to what is still lacking in our policies toward human rights both in the U.S. and around the world. In doing so, we can finally move from working against one another to working with one another. This, I believe, is the only true way to honor each life lost since that day, and each life that’s still being lost to war, bigotry, and the countless other brutalities we inflict on one another in the name of civilization.
We can do it. If we are honest enough with ourselves about how far we’ve come and how far we’ve still got to go as a nation and global community, we can still be more civilized, righteous, and whole. Of course, it’s not just difficult to take a critical look at ourselves and one another, it can be one of the most difficult things of all.
But if on the morning of that terrible September day there were enough heroes who gave their lives to help their fellow men and women in need, surely there are still enough of them left to take a moment for others today, none of whom are tougher, nor smarter, nor better in any way than those before them, but whom instead are just as human.