Sunday, September 11, 2011

This 9/11, The World Needs Humanity

Today's 10th anniversary of 9/11 was the first time the day has been commemorated as history rather than a recent event. For the families and friends of the victims of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, today was a day of reflection at having reached a milestone of grief. Ten years later, America is still very much a wounded country which questions its future. Al-Qaeda's strength has been diminished, but the fear and uncertainty has only slightly begun to dissipate from a tragedy which has scarred the American psyche for years to come.

Despite mistakes (and there were egregious mistakes) made in the wake of 9/11, the tragedy brought not only Americans together, but all of humanity as well. In the days after the attacks, citizens of countries the world over stood side by side with Americans. The unity was not a calculated act of political alignment, but something more basic than that. It was an expression of human decency, and an affirmation that before we are citizens, we are people. Today, in Ottawa, in Paris, in Jerusalem, the global community gathered again to demonstrate that, despite political differences, humanity reaffirms its commitment to itself.

But others chose to use the power of the day for their political agenda. Unable to wait for September 12th, and 13th, and 14th, and 15th, some decided to make today about politics, and ill-conceived wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and about American exceptionalism. The arguments may be fair, and well reasoned. But they are indicative of the extent to which we are unable to see past politics, even on September 11th, 2011. The outcome was dissonant contention on a day which should have been marked by dignity and peace.

We live in an age when people are more connected than any time in history. Yet we still are so often unable to overcome the artificial boundaries of politics. To mourn some is not enough. To fight to strengthen only part of humanity is not enough. To feel pain only on behalf of Egyptian soldiers or only civilians riding to Eilat is insufficient. Both groups had human value, and neither deserved to be targeted. To start deeper conflicts over the plethora we already have is foolish and shows how quickly we channel loss into resentment, sadness into hatred, and a need to heal into more pain.

On this 9/11, we must reaffirm that while our world has changed these past ten years, our humanity has not. Our fates are bound together, and together we will succeed in meeting the challenges which confront us. Let us not turn a blind eye to any human who suffers. Let us not value one life above another. And let us revisit our shock and raw grief today, so that tomorrow we may commit to the amelioration of the human condition wherever it needs our help.

Shalom Salaam Peace.

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