On this 15th anniversary of 9/11, I feel as if I still have more questions than answers: Why so much hatred in the world? Why do we continue to let hatred and fear divide us? I have the sinking feeling that no matter who wins the presidential election this year, we all lose because the divisions between us now are so deep and vitriolic; it is hard to imagine any president ever having the chance to unite us again. Whoever is inaugurated on 1/20/17, the other party is going to immediately set to work to be sure she/he is a failure. I think we can assume that Mt. Rushmore is safe; there will never be another head carved into it.
On this dark anniversary, I am intrigued by two symbols: the ancient Statue of Liberty on one end of our country “The lantern of hope in the harbor still stands; those who seek freedom’s dream to its light are still turning.” And the proposed $25 billion wall on the other end. Which one is the answer for us in this frightening post-9/11 world? A wall would have done nothing to stop 9/11, would have immigration reform? As soon as we come up with one strategy to stop terrorism–let’s check everyone’s shoes!–the bad guys come up with a new strategy, a new weapon. If we could put a giant impenetrable bubble over the US would that end terrorism? Perhaps, but then my kids would never get to see Rome or Greece or the Swiss Alps, and children around the world would never get to experience the wonder that is America. A thousand years after the Crusades, is defeating and deporting Islam the answer? Or is it finding a way to peacefully share the world regardless of our religious beliefs?
On this achingly beautiful morning–so much like the original–I find myself staring at a picture I keep on my dresser. I was playing “cave” with my two kids in the summer of 1998; my daughter was two and my son was three. We had no idea how our world would change during their precious young lives. The only answer I can come up with, 15 years later, is that I love my children and I want them–and my grandchildren–to know a better world than the one we are bequeathing to them right now. I believe that is something upon which all Americans, and all the citizens of the world, can agree.