120: In Remembrance of 9/11

UNPOPULAR OPINION INCOMING!

To be clear, this is not meant as a slap in the face to any of you who are patriotic and proud of your country. My intention is to offer an alternate perspective; an Unframe of Mind, if you will.

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It’s been 18 years and you’re all grown up now.

We can still remember when you were born like it was yesterday, and we’ve spent your entire life trying to figure you out. Your birth brought tears to our eyes and opened them to the possibilities of a brand new world in which we are brought closer together by our patriotism and fear.

We even named you so that everyone would always remember when you came into this world, but few ever bothered to ask why. People spent years of their lives talking about you. Some said the most terrible things about you, some celebrated you, some even said you weren’t real.

We did become closer because of you. That much is true. But we didn’t become closer because we loved you. Rather, we became closer because we shared in our fear and uncertainty of you.

Depending on where we stood, you were either beautiful or disastrous. You taught us how to cherry-pick the worst parts of each other’s religious texts. You taught us how to over-simplify two worlds more complex than anyone could ever imagine. You taught us a valuable, but unlearned lesson about the pitfalls of revenge.

You’ve become a symbol of hatred between two wildly different cultures who knew next to nothing about one another; a false dichotomy that made it easy to dehumanize and demonize the other; a catastrophic wedge that made it easy to forget there are good people, evil people, angels and demons on both sides. You made it easy to forget there is struggle, strife, hope and humanity. You made it easy to forget there are people capable of loving and hating, sinning and sainting... even though we’re told every year, on your birthday, that we should never forget.

I will never forget, as that day is burned in my mind, the 3,000+ victims that died the day you were born. I will also never forget the price of vengeance that's accumulated since. On this day, let us remember the nearly 7,000 US soldiers who gave their lives, the 480,000 Iraqis, Afghanis, and Pakistanis (the majority of which were civilians), nor the estimated millions who have lost their lives as a result of disease, displacement, and the loss of critical infrastructure who died in the name of vengeance and patriotism… and fear. All in the name of seeking justice which was never found.

Happy Birthday, 9/11, you’re all grown up...

-Daniel Wagner

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