11 September 2010

Nine Years Later

The memory isn't forgotten. The war it spawned isn't over. But, we have some perspective. When it happened I had an infant and a toddler. Now, I have a child in elementary school and another in middle school. Many of my neighbors have come and gone. The nation's focus has shifted from security to economics.

Half of the terror of an act of terrorism is that fear that more will follow. Mostly, it hasn't. There have been terrorist acts in America since 9-11, but nothing of that scale in the United States or Canada, and not Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. A number of attempts have been stopped, but that kind of terrorism doesn't have the grass roots support that it needs to be common or succeed.

Thousands of people associated with the 9-11 terrorists or the Taliban regime in Afghanistan have been killed or imprisoned. It isn't obvious that this has reduced the number of people at large who are willing to use violent force and consider the United States to be an enemy. But, certainly, there is an active effort to stop terrorism by military means.

Airport security remains tied in knots in an elaborate form of security theater. We have a "Department of Homeland Security" now. Our liberties are less secure because of the way that George W. Bush choose to handle the issue, and disappointingly, the Obama administration has largely followed the same policies, despite promises to do better on the campaign trail.

Our nation is rebuilding and moving on. For most of the last nine years, 9-11 has seemed like a defining moment, one that ushered in a new era. But, with further reflection, I'm not sure that this event really changed as much as it seemed like it would. It is an event that came from outside our society, rather than having its source in a transformation of our society, and like a boulder hurled into a lake, eventually, the rippled caused when it hits the water even out and fade away. Our reaction under incompetent leadership changed much more than the event itself.

The 9-11 attacks were suicide missions. The people most directly involved were dead. Most of the people we are at war within in its aftermath, had only the most tangential relationship with the attack, which left only a few dozen participants, at most, still living, probably far fewer.

We have been made aware of forces in a change world that aren't all positive. Now, is the time to act, pro-actively, to calm the waters and address root causes. When a wildfire burns, you focus on putting out the flames. But, when the fire is out, you focus on clearing out the brush around the houses, rebuilding with fire resistant materials at well chosen sites, and drilling firefighters for the next blaze. That is where we are now.

1 comment:

Mark @ Israel said...

The 9/11 tragedy made us realize that we should not be lax on security. Hopefully, those who are in charge of Homeland Security are not becoming lenient again after nine years. And yes, there is a need to look at the root causes of problems and not just provide remedies to surface outcomes.