Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Six years later . . .

This is not a post about Where I Was On That Day. I wrote that post last year. This is a post, albeit a brief one, about where (I think) we are today.

Then, we were afraid, and with good cause, and that was a healthy and proper reaction to those events. I am still afraid now, but of something else: of the institutionalization of that fear, what it has done to our civil liberties, to our relations with, even, our allies, to our standing in the world. That fear drives policy and politics, our foreign and domestic agendas. Yet, when the man ultimately responsible for the events of That Day appears, few if any in positions to do something about it say, in public, Why is this man still alive and/or free? How have we so gone awry that Al Qaeda is chanted like a call to prayer by our current administration and yet its literal and figurative poster-boy has had time to develop economic proposals for us? A spokesperson deliberately baits him by calling him "impotent," yet his continued existence, it saddens me to say, suggests that we must not be all that potent ourselves. Meanwhile, the war in Iraq has not made anyone feel less fear, seeing as the cause of that fear remains at large.

This institutionalizing of fear has done little more than weaken us as a nation, not just materially but, more crucially, our faith in our ideals--ideals arising, it helps to remember, not out of a stable and secure space but out of a space in the midst of which, as Benjamin Franklin supposedly said, if we didn't hang together we would all hang separately. Six years on, those ideals have been put up for sale by both parties, the highest bidder being Fear (whether of a future attack and/or of their uncertain political futures, take your pick).

I, at least, am tired of being told to be afraid and being asked to live in a nation whose actions are predicated upon reacting to fear. I persist in the belief that our ideals are stronger than any terrorist's agenda--that, indeed, they are what have made us strong. Why and how our leaders so quickly lost faith in them is beyond my feeble comprehension. But they have. I no longer want to live this way. We are better than this.


debra said...

Beautifully said. Thank you.

Winston said...

I could have written that. I wish I had. Well said...

R. Sherman said...

Yet another thought-provoking post.

I wonder whether, in fact, we do live in the fear you describe. I think the vast majority of people's lives are the same as they were on 09/10/01. I, for one, do not think about terrorism and such except when it appears on TV. Then, it remains in some foreign, dangerous place.

I look at the fact that there have been no further attacks and am grateful. The reasons for that fact none of us can really know. Perhaps the GWOT has been tremendously successful. Perhaps we've been lucky. Perhaps the threat has been overblown for nefarious purposes. We don't know the correct inference to draw and I'm not sure we'll ever know.

I do know that there are those for whom our existence/lifestyle/political and social philosophies are anathema. I do not fear these people for the reasons you describe. Yet vigilance is not fear.