Know what’s scary? 12 years ago exactly, people all over Manhattan were doing exactly what I’m doing right now. They were getting into work, reading annoying emails, laughing with co-workers and getting ready for just another Tuesday. How were they supposed to know that their entire lives would come crashing down around them?
You are a liar if you say that, as an American, you were not out for blood when you found out. Hell I was 9 years old, and I wanted blood; NINE. That was the first time I ever thought about joining the military. A 9 year old wanting to kill people is a terrible, terrible thing. But I know I wasn’t the only one; every child in my catholic elementary school who was told by our principle to “pray for those people who are hurt” wanted blood. They didn’t tell us what was going on, but we knew, hell, kids always know. Plus, you could tell; teachers poured into the hallways, crying on each other’s shoulders. One by one, each student was plucked from class by a hysterical parent. I have never been more scared or confused in my entire life than I was on that day. What the hell is going on?! Why would someone want to hit a building? Eventually I found out.
My dad is a big guy, he’s tough, rugged almost, he doesn’t take people’s shit and he’s never afraid of anything. Or so I thought. The man was scared. He was terrified by what was happening. He had watched the second plane hit the building from the roof of his shop and he was scared. He hugged me, told me he loved me, and we left. My sisters were already with him. The four of us sped home, I was still afraid, but this time, because I thought he was going to crash. Talk radio yelled things; I didn’t understand what they were saying. My dad broke out into a sweat. We got home and were rushed inside. My mom hugged us. My dad locked the door behind us. She had been crying. I don’t like when my mom cries. I was even more worried. I still didn’t know the extent of what was happening. We changed out of our uniforms and were told to play in the basement. We were never allowed to play in the basement.
I heard my mom scream and I ran upstairs. She was crying again. Huge tears fell from her face as she hid it behind her hands. After a little we went outside. Our car was covered in dust. There were papers everywhere. I didn’t understand still but they told me. Finally they told me and I understood. Thousands of people were dead, thousands more were hurt. My dad had Muslim guys working for him; they were driving into Manhattan to do a job in those exact buildings. He called them. They were scared too. They couldn’t get out. They didn’t get back home until 8pm that night. It took them over 11 hours to get out of the city. Everything was shut down and fear was prevalent.
The world has changed since then, of course; but by how much?
A whole generation was built on anger and the desire for revenge. Where has that gotten us? A few more flags flying and a pure hatred for outsiders. I am definitively proud to be American; to have a history so rich and powerful. But that day changed a lot of people, and not all for the better. Some people became more aware, some more loving and supportive, some mourned the loss of a loved one and other mourned for the state of our nation.
But some were consumed by that anger and desire for revenge. They began to believe that the world is against us, and while that may or may not be true, the hatred that seeped out of these people became infectious. Islamic people are not the enemy. Foreigners are not the enemy. Syria, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, they are not our enemies. They are our brothers, they are human beings and earth dwellers, they are just like us! The enemy are the extremists who see us as dirty, the ones who blow themselves up so they could take down a couple extra people, the ones who laugh while we mourn. THESE PEOPLE ARE THE ENEMY. Not a woman wearing a burka. How have people not realized this yet? It’s been 12 years, and all we have done is cry and kill people. Killing is never the answer, it just erases the question.