9/11. A day that would forever change the world. Death is nothing new. The deaths of a multitude of people is nothing new. The way, however, in which the death of so many people was achieved that day, was unknown to mankind at that point. No hatred against individual people fed those acts, the deaths in themselves were meaningless. Killing people as a means to something bigger, that seemed to be the new absolutely horrific way to lead a war. And a war against whom, perpetrated by whom? All of a sudden, nothing made sense anymore. Black and white were gone, just like that. I remember the day very well. I was on vacation in France with my family, I had had a rather enjoyable day learning about the medieval defence mechanisms of a small town. After the visit, we got into our car and then I saw shock on my parents’ faces as the radio mumbled in French what I was only able to understand partially at that moment. I asked for someone to translate to me, to tell me what was going on, but my parents were incapable of putting words to it, disbelief and disillusionment marked their faces. As we drew in to the farm residence where we stayed for the holidays, the owner frantically waved her arms, dragged us out of the car and into the common TV room. There I saw an image that I could not comprehend but would never forget: Planes were crashing into the World Trade Center. It just didn’t make any sense. I knew of the concept of coincidence, but two planes with that little time in between them just couldn’t be coincidence anymore. The thought that somebody might have willingly done that though just completely went over my head. In my world view, people were nice, tried to improve this world, not destroy it. What I had seen could not be put into words, because it simply didn’t fit into the roster I had chosen to view the world with. So there it was: shock, incomprehension.
But that wasn’t all. If only this hot September day had been an isolated case, had been a tragedy never to be forgotten but without further impact… That could of course not be the case. My life – and that of every living soul o this planet -, from that moment on, would revolve around that day, or which may be more accurate, would revolve around the reaction to that day.
Tony Blair called it a “turning point in history”. Alas, it was. However, it was a turning point in all the wrong ways. Instead of standing tall against terrorism and threats to our values, we cowered, we debased ourselves, we betrayed our own principles in glory of this new found maxim called “security”. How I have gotten to abhor this word. “Security”… I don’t have enough saliva to spit, I don’t have a broad enough vocabulary to insult this horrible word. How did security all of a sudden become the end for which all means became okay?
I was young in 2001, but even I know that life has changed since then. Liberty has a new meaning. It has been castrated, it is secondary to security, conditioned. Liberty used to be the be-all and end-all. Alas, no more.
It makes me angry. So angry. That someone with hatred in their heart, perhaps uneducated or just unfortunate, but in any way misguided, might have the power to clip the wings of that freedom we once held so high and to make way to a new god, a frightened, defending position, “security”….
Never have I felt so ashamed to be part of a culture that proclaims grand principles only to betray them in the most cowardly way against an enemy. Yes, the enemy is real. Yes, the enemy’s goals are low and despicable. No, this does not warrant a devaluation of our own principles.
What more do they want than the satisfaction of seeing us betray our own principles?
Piece by piece and step by step, we let ourselves be changed, let ourselves be controlled by a small minority whose only goal it is to bring chaos into a once orderly world were priorities were clear and liberty reigned supreme. This is not the way to go, it never has been.
I feel ashamed of how public opinion has been so susceptible to the idea of security that liberty has become second place. I feel so ashamed that we have justified the unjustifiable out of fear. I feel ashamed that we cannot stand by our principles – and what is worse – change direction in the name of these very principles.
9/11 changed the world. It could have been one horrible day. It became a horrible decade and a half. The demise of freedom… I hoped I’d never be a witness to it.
Call me to the witness stand now…