On 9/11: Fifteen Years Later

This post represents solely the thoughts of Morgane and does not represent the rest of her team. To our Asian readers, my apologies. Treat this as an exercise in English comprehension? 😉

At first, I thought I might have done a piece on it. Then I thought seriously and decided against it. 9/11 has yet to happen in Pacific’s world. With any luck, it might not occur at all.

But it is wishful thinking to butterfly something like this away or put it away in the real world. To say that 9/11 is the Pearl Harbor of our day is an understatement. I was a very tiny little girl when it happened, and the memories of those events would last for a long time.

No, I am not as crass as to say I remember the (adjective) (adjective) (negative emotions), nor would I say I understand – as I entered high school – what the changes in my country was at the time. What I will tell you is one thing. I felt unnerved, as if something was wrong.

More specifically, I felt a very weird sense of unease – mostly because the grown-ups around me was reacting in a way that I never ever saw them. My great uncle can stare bears down the face and haul bombs and torpedoes and load ’em onto fighter-bombers (yes, that same one I keep on talking about) and he was shaken. Not afraid. Not fearful. More like angry.

Then as I grew up, I realized bit by bit that something I thought we’ve always had, is gone. Confidence.

People aren’t confident of America and what she stands for anymore. That’s part of the decline and the malaise I was talking about in the 2016 miniseries. It’s as if we’ve lost our way and lost our ability to focus on things that matter. Rather than facing the truth and getting to the bottom of the matter, we’ve let self-interest and partisanship get in the way. Our unity was a thing that was laughably transient – within a few months we were right back at where we started, but worse, because now we’re pitting minority interest against minority interest. Under the guise of utilitarianism and noble pursuit we’ve done just the opposite.

Take a look at around you now. Life might be good for you, but I can assure you, just based on some simple numbers, I can bet you that half of the tens of thousands of American readers on this website isn’t. Wages have stagnated. A few has gotten richer, but most people I know are struggling to just get by. Roughly two thirds of my classmates who graduated from college are back at home now, barely squeezing out a living.

What does all of this have to with 9/11? Because 9/11, were I to pin down to one event that begun our slow and current decline, would be it. 9/11 is one of the most heinous (and I remember lightly mocking W over his way of pronouncing that term) events that has happened in our history. It is not only a terror attack, but now – thanks to some recently unveiled information – I see it as a terror attack and a betrayal and a confirmation all at the same time.

The House just passed a law called the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act. If Obama doesn’t veto it in ten days (which I have serious doubts based on what the White House has said), this will give the victims of 9/11 a route to pursue legal justice – by bringing Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally, into court. For years and years we’ve laughed and dismissed the possibility of this as a mere conspiracy – how could you even think like that? It’s 20XX.

Now? No one’s laughing.

American power is declining. Like it or not, we’re experiencing now one of the most turbulent years of our time. I am not old to say that it has colored my perception just yet – I fall squarely under that 20-29 demographic – but looking back, I think it is important to frame just how important that event was in the scheme of the last fifteen years.

To me, 9/11 was the last time where our country displayed – for a fraction of a second – genuine unity. Whether people were exploiting the event for their own gain or genuinely trying to help is irrelevant. The appearance was there, and the United States of America (emphasis on United) was well, exactly what it said on the tin.

To me, 9/11 contributed so much to our national identity that it deserve to be remembered. In essence, it provided the foundation to two things that will shape this country for years to come: a simmering resentment that we could, should, and perhaps would eventually do something about our problems, and a (often corrupted) desire to maximize good by taking a moral high ground and assuming that our values are superior to everything else.

The first got us into a lot of war and created a lot of hare-brained policies, and the second is directly tied to the rise of political correctness in our country today. If asked, I honestly can’t tell you which one’s worse. We never follow through with any of the things we want to do, and nowadays you can’t even discuss Islam in anything less than a positive light without having the label of Islamophobic slapped onto your face. We are lucky in this regard – at least we aren’t England or France or Germany, and the First Amendment is still drawing haggard breath.

Mourning will do nothing to bring those people we lost, our national unity, or our confidence, back. Anger offers an emotional outlet and perhaps a few convenient boogeymen, but I fail to see how it will bring us solutions to the issues that we face today. And so, I spend today neither in mourning nor in anger, but largely in quiet contemplation.

For fifteen long years many have asked why it happened and what we can do to make it not happen again, but on something like this, I deal neither with the unalterable past nor the unpredictable future. What I am focused on is what I can do in the present day. America will not fix itself on its own, and I don’t expect other people to come fix it for us. So who’s left? Us, of course. Whatever you end up contributing, be it money, time, or effort, the job’s ours.

I’m going to conclude by citing – thanks to an avid reader’s reminder – someone else in my stead. The source of the quote is typically attributed to Teddy Roosevelt.

It is but an idle waste of time to celebrate the memory of the dead unless we, the living, in our lives strive to show ourselves not unworthy of them.

Here’s to 9/11.