9/11 Where were you?
“War is what happens when language fails.”― Margaret Atwood.
Where were you when the attack happened? I was on the runway in a plane for another ubiquitous business trip. The captain came on the intercom and announced that we would return to the gate without any explanation. I called my wife and asked her to turn on the TV to find out what was happening. When she told me, I was stunned. Who would do such a thing? What was the purpose? After getting off the plane and gathering around the TV. As I watched the planes flying into the twin towers and the horrific aftermath. I had to wonder, what has humanity come to?
Twenty years later, as I look back.
The attacks were unbelievable, but they brought Americans together as we haven’t been since. We have gone from that short period of togetherness to the point of division that is equally unprecedented. The pendulum has swung in the other direction. Americans are so divided now that many topics just aren’t talked about. When I visit my family in Arkansas, I can’t talk about politics, vaccinations, and Donald Trump. Our understanding and views on these topics are opposite and create anger rather than dialogue.
For example, My brother went into the hospital yesterday, and my first thought was, has he been vaccinated? It turns out he has been vaccinated, but his son and their kids who visit have not. I also have a friend in Oregon whose kids and grandkids have moved in with her and her husband but have not been vaccinated. I will be the first to admit I don’t understand their thinking.
It has reinforced for me that “might” seldom win the hearts and minds of your enemy. It just reinforces the divisions. As in World War II, there are times when it’s required, but we’re now in a period of humanity where we need to relearn how to dialogue and find our common ground.
People were maimed and killed, making it even harder to come together in understanding. More than 2300 US troops have died, and more than 20,000 were injured. Additional coalition troops were killed and injured as well Afghan militants and civilians. I guess what I have learned from all this is that war isn’t the answer. The costs are too high.
The mental health of the wounded and those who fought in this war will be with us for generations. So how do we measure the impact of this at a time when we need to have the feeling of togetherness rather than divisiveness.
As we reflect on the past twenty years, I hope we can move closer together and work together to solve the massive problems we are facing in America and the world.
“Frankly, our ancestors don’t seem much to brag about. I mean, look at the state they left us in, with the wars, the broken planet. Clearly, they didn’t care about what would happen to the people who came after them.”― Suzanne Collins.