Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years Later

Ten years later America is a nation divided, divisive. If we can afford air travel we must suffer long lines of indignities only to sit cramped in airless pens. Our journalism has become corporate pandering instead of actual information. Our economy is this thing we stumble through, some of us falling. We are dispirited.

It's not like the Muslim world has it any better. Think of the struggles for Democracy in Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Jordan. Think what Lybian and Syrian citizens are enduring this very moment.

So. Are you a pessimist or an optimist? Did Al Quaeda win or can we turn this thing around?

Maybe it doesn't sound like it, but I'm an optimist.

Meeting each other teaches us about each other. It's a lot harder to fear or hate someone you've shared conversation with over a cup of coffee.

If we can't afford to travel to the Arab world, (or if we're afraid to get on a plane), we can meet our Arab neighbors right here in southern California, starting with the annual Arab American Festival in Garden Grove, September 23-25th. It's free (so the economy is no excuse) and it looks like fun.

Or just...break bread with someone who is different from you.

Here is the best writing I've seen about 9/11, from Roberta Martinez.

23 comments:

Shell Sherree said...

Ten years on and I'm not sure how much the pain has lessened, even from these distant shores. But if enough of us can forge bonds here and there, surely it will help things to heal, in time.

dive said...

You're absolutely right, Petrea: ignorance of other cultures only feeds fear of them; the chance to meet, talk and understand one another is the only sane way forward we have.

Speedway said...

Thank you, Petrea. Thank you, Dive.

Birdman said...

Peace.

Petrea Burchard said...

In all this time of blogging, Shell, I've met so many people all over the world. I haven't met a lot of people from Arab nations--many rulers of those nations don't allow free access to the internet, for one thing--but I've met a few. That's one way to go. Look at what it's done for us.

See, Dive? Perhaps you've come to understand us silly Americans. Bellis was telling me just yesterday how Brits think we're too cheerful. It made me laugh and it reminded me of the French finding us annoying because we smile too much.

Peace to you, Speedway and Birdman. It's a solemn day, but I believe those who died on this day ten years ago would want us to have hope and to wage peace.

John Sandel said...

I don't give a damn about anniversaries. Every day since then I've thought of them: thousands added to the millions. "It's a bright, guilty world." (Orson Welles).

But I love this photo. How like a glance down a river, through the scrim of air or of memory … but looking back, at a past we'd change, or to a future we can't descry?

Nothing gold can stay, the man said. But I'd stop here.

Susan Campisi said...

I'm all for peace and understanding. As Ghandi said, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." Thank you for the thoughtful post.

Bellis said...

Some think I'm a pessimist. I think I'm a realist. Bin Laden's plan was to cripple the US economically and put the people in a state of fear. Did he win?

I've not been to any Arab country except a few hours in Aden, Yemen, and a week in Egypt, though that's not really an Arab country. It'd be good if everyone could get to know Arabic people better. After 9/11 it was shocking that Caltech students and professors were abused in the streets of Pasadena because ignorant people couldn't tell an Indian - or even a Sicilian - from an Arab.

You really need to clean your windows, Petrea.

Petrea Burchard said...

I was in the passenger seat, Bellis. You'll have to speak to, uh, someone else. Hey, if he'd washed his windows, I never would have gotten this shot!

I'm glad you like the photo, JS. Thanks for the assistance.

That Ghandi quote is perfect, Susan. Wish someone in the upper echelons had thought of it ten years ago.

Bellis, that's a shameful tale. That was a time when we should have been reaching out, not lashing out. It was an opportunity to show the world we were better than Al Quaeda, as opposed to just as stupid as they were.

TheChieftess said...

While it seemed as if the world stopped turning that morning, it continues to move on. I read an article about an author who was commissioned by the Kennedy's to write the story of JFK's death...quite a story in and of itself...but my point is, within this article it described the political animus between the two parties...statements that could have been taken from today's new sources...the world changes daily, and yet, it is still much the same...just a lot more technology so we're up close and personal with the good, the bad, and the ugly...

It had been a very poignant and emotional time for me watching on tv the remembrances and stories commemorating that tragic day...

Anonymous said...

ginab;

Good post, P.

Laura said...

I don't think Al Quaeda won. I think this horrendous act was the beginning of the end for them as an organized entity.

But--I don't think America won either, less because of the attack and more because of our xenophobic reponses.

Here is a wonderful, thoughtful article about sharing tea by a fellow Examiner of mine:

http://www.examiner.com/tea-in-national/honoring-9-11-victims-and-heroes-with-three-cups-of-tea

Ms M said...

Thoughtful post. May we learn, and continue to learn in ways that heal and bridge the divisions between us.

Gina said...

As with Bellis, when people ask if I am a pessimist or an optimist, I always state that I am a realist.

I don't think anyone has "won" nor can anyone ever "win" when it comes to terrorism and the subsequent conflicts that we have immersed ourselves in. I think the people of the U.S. and the Arab world are all losers in these conflicts.

I agree that we are all much more the same than we are different. If you can't make it down to the Arab American Festival we do have some wonderful Arab food right here in Pasadena - Azeen's Afghani restaurant is one of my favorites.

Petrea Burchard said...

It's a good point, Chieftess. We say we're going to change. We try to change. It's worth it.

Thanks, ginab. I keep thinking I should rewrite it because there's more to say, but one can't say it all.

Laura, yes, those are my sentiments. Despite the controversy surrounding the book's author, the article has the right idea. Perhaps Republicans and Democrats could take tea together?

We have to step out of our comfort zones, Ms. M. I know my own tendency to give it lip service. Now that I've said it I shall have to take a Tea Partier to tea.

Gina, John wrote the most delightful review of Azeen's--what a great place. I'll see if I can find it for you all.

Steven said...

This is a very complex subject. My thoughts are with those who lost their lives and their families. The US Armed Forces have done a service to America of which can never be repaid. Now for the facts. Those who hate the United States of America will never rest untill we are defeated or dead. The one and only way to make sure that never happens is to kill the enemy. Roosevelt, Truman, and Churchill knew that killing the enemy was the only way to survive. We shall see who's resolve is stronger. I'm betting on the USA.

Petrea Burchard said...

Steven, perhaps you and I should sit down over a cup of tea.

Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...

Beautiful thoughts and a message for reflection. I am an optimist without any apology. I do wonder just how we will move through this. I had two children ask me today why we have wars. Why, indeed.

Bises,
Genie

Julie said...

Great post, Petrea.

I was surprised (pleasantly) at how optimistic and uplifting many of the news articles/media coverage/blog posts have been today. So much celebration of life. So much hope for the future.

nathalie in Avignon said...

Petrea I'm so grateful for the hopeful and positive tone of this post. Yes we remember, we all remember, in Europe we remember too.

But making friends with Muslims around us and around the world is the only way forward. The Festival you mention is a wonderful initiative.

Thank you for your inspirational words.

nathalie (Avignon) said...

Oh and I almost forgot - Great photo too !

Petrea Burchard said...

Thank you all. Let's give it a try.

Steven said...

Tea would be nice. I would like that. One last thought. We were attacked ten years ago NOT because of what we were but what we were NOT. We were not Muslim. Those who follow the Koran word-for-word also share a responsibility in the murdering 2997 innocent victims.