Sunday, September 11, 2011

My 9/11 Story

I don't have a great 9/11 story to tell. I was 16. Was in the City, but in the Bronx. I only saw the images on TV. Surreal is all I can say. At that point, I, and I would find out that many more too, believed that America was incapable of suffering such attacks. I didn't know that we were hated. I couldn't understand how people from other countries could say such cruel things as that we deserved it. I just watched it on TV. The whole day. And then I went to sleep, and it was all I could think about. I couldn't imagine that the news coverage of the Towers, the attacks would ever end. I thought I would wake up every day and see the Towers on TV, see those images again and again. One Tower smoking from a gaping hole in the middle of it, while an airplane, one not unlike the ones where I've been a passenger, crashes into the other Tower: A fireball explosion. More black smoke.

I watched the President that day say that we would get them, the one's responsible, that we already knew who they probably were, what group they belonged to. I thought it was darn quick. I couldn't understand how it could have been done so quickly. Now it seems obvious.

I've grown up. Learned a lot about the world, especially the part of it that doesn't like my country. It turns out, they have a pretty good reason: we've been bombing the shit out of them. Men, women, children - occasionally, we get who we're after. The President was happy. Said we were liberating peoples around the world. They hated us only because of our democracy - not the bombs. Said they deserved it. They harbored terrorists, were terrorists, wanted to destroy America, so we had to destroy them. Turns out, all of that was bullshit. No WMDs. No ties to Al-Qaeda. The President said invading Iraq was still the right thing to do.

Yeah, I sought justice at the time. We all did. People leapt from those burning buildings. Innocent people. I didn't question Iraq. Neither did the President. We're still there. Ten years later.

If there's one thing I've learned in a decade, it's hate. I thought I knew something about it. I was 16. No. Hate is what makes people kill each other. Makes people live their whole lives with the singular goal of one day blowing themselves up in order to kill innocent people. It's American. It's Iraqi. It's human.

People face hate now. A decade does little to assuage true hatred. People hate Muslims. People hate Americans. That hasn't gotten us anywhere. We're not safer. We're less safe. As we continue to bomb countries back to the Stone Age, we foster future terrorists: the Iraqi boy who watched his father get blown to bits by a plane without a pilot, the Afghani girl whose mother was shot to death driving behind an American convoy. . . . What would you do if all of your friends and relatives were blown up, bombed - casualties of a war that began on false premises?

We're all people. We don't always act like it, but we are. Hate is bullshit. It's also everywhere. Don't stand for it. Or don't be surprised if someone hates you.

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