Commentary and Philosophy Non-Fiction posted September 11, 2014

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The Shadow of 9/11

by Spiritual Echo

In the wee hours of the morning while digesting Obama's announcement about sending four hundred and seventy-five soldiers back to Iraq, I paused, realizing the announcement was made on the eve of another anniversary of 9/11--now the thirteenth.

More than a dozen years have passed since that horrific day that no one will forget. Memorial ceremonies will mark the time, date, and in New York City, each victim's name will be spoken aloud--lest we forget.

We have become inured to the images we watched, desensitized from the brutality of the original TV coverage--less shocked, but more determined.

I didn't lose anyone on 911. The bloody murders were not committed in my country, but like everyone alive today, the events of that September morning, changed my life.

It's human nature to pay scant attention to issues and situations that don't have a direct effect on the quality of one's life. Somewhere in the back of my head, I was aware of the conflicts surging in the Middle-East. I'd grown up with the century-old battles and bombings in Ireland. Israel's conflict with Palestine was like a dull ache, a perpetual item on the news. In hindsight, I think I paid more attention to South Africa, Apartheid and the heroic story of Mandela, than I did to the festering hatred in the Arab States. I thought I was reasonably well-informed.

As in all grieving, I experienced the same initial emotional responses after 9/11; horror, disgust, denial, rage and acceptance. I totally accepted and endorsed security measures, felt immeasurably grateful toward the initial responders to the tragedy and had tremendous respect for the military that ramped up and went into action. As the taunting sneers of Osama were televised, I began to question how humanity produced a man fuelled with such hate. Even while the gears were churning and our governments pieced together their strategies, I still believed that Osama Bin Laden was a freak of nature.

I had a very difficult evolution as I began to understand that hatred was bubbling, boiling globally and was to contaminate my life. Osama was only the visible fin above the water. Below the surface, the shark began to twitch, gnash and sharpen his teeth.

In these dozen years, I have learned a great deal about the Islamic belief system--much more than I cared to know. Not because I had any negative feelings about any religion--I did not. Though I consider myself a Christian, and live a faith-based life, I am not bound to one sect or church, preferring to label myself as spiritual.

I've participated in endless religious debates with all manner of believers. Sometimes we walk away with a broader understanding of each other's life code, and sometimes the discussions end in a no-win situation. Regardless, we walk away. In my quest for understanding of the root cause for extremism, I've had many discussions with people who abide by the Qu'aran--peacefully. In doing so, I've managed to separate the zealots from the faithful and the terrorists from my neighbours--but it wasn't easy.

It is much simpler to hate the Japs, the Kikes, the Reds the Congs and after 9/11, anyone who wore a turban or a hijab. As we have painfully learned, skin colour and nationality no longer define our enemies. It is even harder to accept that we are hated for the same irrational lack of reason and our differences.

Traditional war is not working. The numbers game, the thousands of deployed soldiers and the returning caskets, may have given Iraq a chance to implement domestic change, but the regime is not strong enough to drown the hatred for non-Muslims.

This decade has taught me not to take comfort in any 'live and let live' theory. Tolerance for cultural and religious differences is not a global tenet. I'm far less likely to have casual conversations about religion. I've become a profiler, wary and assessing my risks in airports and strategic public places.

I can no longer live in political ignorance. I can't ignore the breeding hatred that is now recruiting our own children to a radical faith that supports violence. Without question, I am involved in this war.

Once upon a time, it was easy to ignore war that wasn't waged in our pristine garden. The digital age ensures that I am instantly informed. An in-your-face text announces the daily death toll and sends videos of massacres to my phone.

America and its allies have stepped up, once again, and announced their return to Iraq. Just four hundred and seventy-five men--how can they make a difference? But then I stopped to consider the damage and the eternal scar on humanity that a handful of men rained upon the world that fateful September morning, so long ago. I don't know the names of the men who crashed the planes, but I suppose it doesn't matter--they've been replaced.

I hope that by God's and Allah's grace, a handful of warriors, a united confederation of countries, will return us to a peace where we might once again trust our fellow man.

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