I am sure the world does not need another September Eleventh post today, but as I sit on my couch on this quiet Saturday night listening to music, I can’t help but open the valve on my feelings to see how I may fill the cup. The events of nine years ago and the subsequent effects they have had on the world have been on my mind all day, and I need to free them the only way I know how- scribbling a few words on this page.
I will do my best to keep this post apolitical. I have no need to incite or aggravate any one in anyway. I simply want to jot down a few thoughts to help me clear my head and hope that my words will bring about some insight, comfort, or peace to whoever reads.
The best place to start, I suppose is a brief “where were you,” story. I was a Peace Corp volunteer living in a small town in Mozambique called Quissico. Our town was about six hours north of Maputo and quite isolated. I remember that day clearly, because it was the first day the new public phone was installed in town. Up to that point, if we wanted to make a phone call we had to drive about two hours north to Inhambane. They had installed the sole public phone across the street from our house, so we set up a casual surveillance to wait for a break in the line. When it appeared, my wife, girl friend at the time, pounced at the chance to call home.
We called her mother around nine thirty eastern time to share the great news that we were now connected with the world through the magic of telephone communication. Her mother was watching the news footage of the collapse of Twin Towers. After a brief chat we went to the local bar and restaurant with a TV and sat in awe and watched.
My first thoughts went to my two best friends living in NYC at the time. The Mozambicans warned us not to return home because America was now a war zone. The irony was palatable, seeing that Mozambique had suffered through years of war. For the following weeks we listen to BBC and Voice of American on the radio every night as the war began in Afghanistan. I remained in a haze of confusion for an uncountable amount of time. I am not sure I have ever been freed of the confusion caused on 9-11.
Here we are nine years later, and I am still filled with questions. What has changed? What have we learned? How have we grown? It is one thing to never forget, but what next? Should this event been a sign that we, I don't mean Americans but all people. need to change the way we do everything? Shouldn't we have created cross cultural exchanges, institutes, and conferences where people of all cultures and religions would meet as often as possible till we achieved peace? Shouldn't we have buried out flags and found more unifying images? Shouldn't we have turned our cheeks and sought to understand?
After reading the latest news about the Ground Zero Mosque, and the Quran burnings, one would venture to guess we haven’t come very far at all. A nebulous war on terror, two concrete wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, countless terrorist attacks worldwide and here we are where we started. The moderates blame the zealots, the zealots blame everyone, and we have done little to build a more balanced tolerant understanding of our differences. The blame can be placed on the shoulders of all sides, but one thing is clear- war has done nothing to help the families of the people who died find peace. War has done nothing to help move us forward. War has done nothing.
I am sure most Americans today will do their best to mark their connection to the events of September 11th. Facebook updates, Twitter hashtags will be chalk full of “Never Forgets, and God Bless Americas.” But what have we done to move forward? What can we do? What are you doing to help foster peace?
What does it mean to be truly tolerant of a world view that differs from your own? As a non-believer I see very little difference between Christianity and Islam, so I find it odd that so much hatred and fear can grow from two philosophies that as far as I can understand share a god and many stories. Where is the disconnect? As you can see, I have more questions than answers.
I wish had some profound advice to offer, but really all I have to say can be easily condensed into five stanzas of song. It may be clichéd and a bit sappy from years of play, but sometimes the biggest problems have the simplest solutions.
No religion. No countries. No possessions. This is what I am doing. I have dedicated my life’s work to move toward these three simple axioms. I want to encourage my readers and the people I meet to move beyond their nationalistic tendencies. If not able to make people question their need for religion, I want to make people think critically about their beliefs and the effects these beliefs have on other members of the world community. No religion. No countries. No possessions. They made sense to me at seven and I haven’t looked back.
Lest I be criticized for not being sensitive to the families of the people who died or the sanctity of the ground, let em say this- I can't help but think back to the fear I felt that first day when I thought my two best friends could have been dead. I think of my life without Ari and Richard in it, and can't help but feel unimaginable sadness. What would I do differently had they died? The answer is....I would try to unite. To educate. I would try to build a world with No religion. No countries. No possessions.