After 9/11: the big mistake

08.09.2011 - New York - David Andersson

She was aboard United Airlines
Flight #175 – the second airplane that hit the World Trade Center on September 11,
2001.

Unfortunately, what this father, in spite of the immediacy of his grief, could achieve,
our politicians could not. Contrast the above sentiment, where the prayer for one’s daughter’s soul reaches out and embraces the whole world, with the golden words
of President Bush in response to the same tragedy, *“every nation in every region now
has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”*

Over and over, at every anniversary of the great tragedy, we see our politicians,
our pundits, our *“experts”* touted by the media, complaining, finding fault,
laying blame… But who is to blame? Not just for what happened on 9/11, but for
what happened since? As the media gets caught up in the frenzy of yet another
anniversary, providing 24/7 coverage of the ceremonies, the re-construction of the
twin towers and the opening of the memorial museum at ground zero, where is the
dialogue on *“where to from here?”*

After ten years, we can clearly see that our politicians, including President Bush,
Vice President Cheney, NY Governor George Pataki and NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani,
made the biggest mistake in the history of the United States. America was wounded, bleeding. The attention of the entire world was focused on us. People we elected as
our representatives, people who spoke then, and continue to speak in our names,
could have used this incalculable opportunity to open a worldwide dialogue on
pain, suffering, violence, vengeance, retribution, resolution, reconciliation… and the
future of humanity.

**Instead, they chose “war on terrorism!”**

*”Rest in Peace, for we shall not repeat the error,”* reads the cenotaph at the Hiroshima
Peace Memorial Park where on Monday, August 6, 1945, at 8:15 AM, the Atomic
Bomb *”Little Boy”* was dropped by an American B-29 bomber, the Enola Gay,
directly killing an estimated 80,000 people, and bringing the total casualty by the
year-end, from injury and radiation, to a staggering 90,000–140,000.

What was it about the leadership of Japan who responded to this atrocity during the
second anniversary commemoration – not by declaring a desire for retribution – but
by adopting the famous *“Peace Declaration?”*

May be it is time for us to reflect on the Humanist principle, *“You will make your
conflicts disappear when you understand them in their ultimate roots, not when you
try to resolve them”*.

Indeed, the United States has historical experience with real leaders like Eleanor
Roosevelt, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, who in their times of crisis, helped the country to move forward and lead the world in the right direction.

Today, people such as John Titus are indeed beacons of hope. So are artists like Faith
Ringgold who, along with NYC students aged 8-19 years, created the 9/11 Peace
Story Quilt, now on exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

There is hope yet for us all. May be it is time for our elected officials to stop and
really listen to what those who elected them have to say. May be the American
Dream can still become a reality, but one thing is certain – it will not come from
violence and bigotry. After all these years, the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
opposing the Vietnam War, still ring true: *“We still have a choice today: nonviolent
coexistence or violent coannihilation. We must move past indecision to action…. If we
do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors
of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without
morality, and strength without sight.”*

Let us shake ourselves out of inaction. Let us stand together – as one city, one nation
and one world – and look into the depths of our souls to find the shining jewel of
life-forward-movement, which will be the best way to honor the heroes and the
fallen of 9/11.

**This article was produced by Sushmita Mukherjee and David Andersson**

*Sushmita Mukherjee is Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at the Weill Medical
College of Cornell University and a humanist*

Categories: International, North America, Opinions, Politics

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