A second night of blogging

September 4, 2011 at 2:19 am (Uncategorized)

It’s September 4th. It has been for about an hour. I’m sitting here, trying to find a way to get started writing (once I get the juices flowing it makes it a lot easier…did you ever stop and think about where that expression came from? I think I just realized. Oh my.) and I thought to myself, “wow, it’s September already.” That made me think of football, of autumn leaves, school starting again, finally being able to wear sweaters again…and September 11th.

It’s not always a day I like to think about, and not the most pleasant subject to dwell on, but one week from today is 10 years since that morning. Crazy to think about. That one event has shaped U.S. policy, both foreign and domestic, in a myriad of ways. Perhaps closer to home, it’s profoundly affected my generation. Growing up in the 90s, with a robust economy and a carefree attitude, the new millennium seemed as if it might be excellent and prosperous. The cold war ended right about the time I was born; as a kid I didn’t have a concept of it.

Then, September 11th.

Patriotism. Bombs. Nationalism. Mission Accomplished. Afghanistan. Iraq. Osama Bin Laden. The endless war on terrorism that continues to this day (and for that matter, we’re still in Afghanistan and Iraq, where my cousin and thousands of other soldiers and support people still are).

All of a sudden, questioning the direction of this country (or not being overtly nationalistic and, I would say to an extent, not being petty) was tantamount to slightly veiled treason. It presented an interesting conundrum for someone growing up and figuring out that as I much as I love this country, it has some spots that aren’t all that pretty. But to ever say that the U.S. wasn’t already perfect, or to not wear a flag pin on your lapel, or to say that warrantless wiretapping and holding people and torturing them and denying them basic access to our judicial system…for a while, it was fairly taboo. In a lot of ways, it still is. There are a lot of people who want to see the world in black and white, us and them. Unfortunately, we have are people. People who are flawed; people who are compassionate; people who are cruel…and a lot of people floating somewhere in-between. We have all seen people unite in the face of great tragedy, wilt in moments of crisis, rationalize dubious morality, and take out our frustrations on one of the world’s major religions.

What’s the answer here? Hell, what’s the question? How does a country overcome something like that? How can I look at the country a decade later and be hopeful for the future? I am…but a couple of recessions have taken their toll. There’s not much in the way of job prospects out there for me at the moment; I’m sitting here at this desk in the middle of the night in large part because simply being employed is a chore and I’m going to take what I can get.

It’s hard to say we’re “over” Sept. 11th, because clearly we aren’t. We will be, one day. We’ll look at Sept. 11th like we look at Dec. 7th; another day that will live in infamy but will fade from the public consciousness. I can hope that my grandchildren will grow up in a world where it will be odd to look at Muslims and think that our generation has this irrational hatred of them, just as we might look at our grandparents when they talk about “Japs.” Not everyone has an irrational hatred, I think that we have a self-awareness about ourselves that our grandparents might not have had access to. We also are living in more tolerant times, which makes the hypocrisy in not allowing mosques to be built while we claim to be fighting for freedom all the more clear.

 

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