So today is September 11th. Five years ago today, thousands of people lost their lives in the largest terrorist atrocity in history. Almost three thousand human beings died at the hand of a backward theological fascism.
I remember how my workplace dropped what it was doing and how everyone was transfixed by what was happening on the TV screens. I remember every single major news website shutting down due to overload. I remember sitting with Rebecca in her flat in Queens Park whilst we watched the news all night.
I remember how much we cried.
I remember thinking how sick and twisted and evil the people who had done this were and that nobody deserved this.
I’ve been brought up to have a lot of gratitude for what the USA has done for the world. The energy, inventiveness and resourcefulness of the USA is incredible. We must never forget how much we owe them after we were bailed out in WW1 and WW2 and the Cold War. I still look to the USA as a place I’d love to live in someday and I think that the spread of democracy throughout the world should be encouraged. I think the United States is in general a positive force in the world.
I’m also not above being selfish. I’m aware that many of the benefits I enjoy by living in the Western World are due, in part, to the environment that exists and is supported by the USA. I’m talking about our world trade system. I’m talking about the uneven distribution of wealth in the world. This is a result of the corporate interests that drive America. I’m not proud of it, but I’m glad to be here and living a life of relative plenty and security.
But please don’t think I consider the USA to be purely altruistic. The USA has put itself in a position (as befits the dominant world power) whereby it feels obligated to protect and support its interests around the world. As the world economy has become more integrated, but certainly traceable from the days of the Monroe Doctrine, the USA has proven to be more active in areas that one might consider aren’t in its “Back Yard”. The USA is also inconsistent in spreading its values across the globe if it suits.
To many, the USA has been meddlesome. To some, it is the embodiment of evil.
So I struggle with the dilemma of looking up the the USA and being grateful to it on the one hand with a revulsion for the exploitation and meddling I am associated with by existing in the system that the USA dominates.
I would love to see a world where resources are shared more fairly, even though I struggle with the thought of having to give up my luxurious lifestyle.
I do remember thinking at the time that the USA had an unprecedented opportunity to say, “OK. People have given up their lives in a very spectacular and desperate way to hurt us. Let’s reflect on what we can do to make the world a better place through non-coercive means. Let’s use the unity this atrocity has brough to make a Marshall Plan for the world and work together to elminate the causes of this evil.”
Unfortunately, that vision did not bear fruit. Perhaps it was unworkable or utopian. I almost wish we had tried.
What I do know, from the Cost of War site, is that the war in Iraq has cost over $313,848,570,000 to date. That’s right – Three Hundred and Thirteen BILLION DOLLARS!. With that money, we could have provided for the health 0f almost 190,000,000 children or built 2,500,000 houses.
All that, for a war that had nothing to do with 9/11.
I also see that in the USA and across the world our freedoms are being eroded by anti-terror legislation. We’re starting to do the job for the terrorists by cutting our own throats.
My thoughts today are with those who tragically lost people that day and for those who have lost people in the War on Terror and related conflicts.
And whilst I love the ideals of America I cling to the hope that they will awaken once more, with an America under the leadership of Statesmen, not politicians. People who think of the long-term interests of their country and the world, not the narrow interests of their patron corporations in timescales of election cycles.
As one of the the Founding Fathers, Thomas Paine, once said, “My country is the World. My Religion is to do good.”
I eagerly await the return of that spirit. The world needs it right now.