When nations suffer a collective trauma, particularly the trauma of an unexpected attack, it is injurious to national psyche and pride. People rally behind a leader to draw on the collective strength to face the enemy. The attack on 9/11 was such a trauma.
In the fog of the immediate aftermath of the event, the reaction is swift, without much time for understanding and discussion of a cogent thoughtful policy. The nuances and sensibilities do not have much chance to be considered. Phrases such as, “Those not with us, are against us”, appeal to the raw injured nerves. The common retort to all thoughtful introspective analyses become, 9/11 changed every thing. This led to many ill considered impetuous policies that have come back to haunt us, causing many more wars, deaths, injuries and much destruction in far off places.
Though the world has not been a peaceful place ever, and the 20th century was particularly bloody. Compared to post Sept 11th, the world of September 10th looks rosy. The emotion to build a grand monument to the September 11th is quite natural, and the effort to build a majestic and meaningful structure in the chasm like wound left by the fall of the twin towers is laudable.
Instead of longing for a past that is always more fanciful than real, a greater and more meaningful monument to the spirit of the national resilience will be to create new realities, to overcome the fear rooted in prejudice, voices of derision tearing the fabric of national ethos and policies skirting the constitutional guarantees.
The United States was created to advance and serve a pristine idea of equality of all human beings and their inalienable right to, life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. That ideal should not be abandoned or interrupted, because that will be a real defeat. We need to go forward and build harmony based on understanding and respect for all, by sharing our thoughts and visions.
The United States of America has passed through some very trying times through its history, overcoming the inhumanity of slavery on a group of its citizens and civil war, to evolve into a multi racial, multi ethnic, multi religious, and multi cultural society, a welcoming microcosm of all the peoples of the world. A richly woven fabric of ideas and culture rooted in its cherished constitution.
The real strength of the United States is in the freedom to think and act with intellectual and political diversity under the guidance and parameters of the constitution; a freedom to pursue a dream of excellence. A deep understanding and celebration of this idea will indeed be a more productive and lasting monument to the idea and purpose of the United States of America.
A very good friend of mine, Mike Ghouse from Dallas Texas has been championing the “Unity Day” on September 10th for last two years with very good results. People and civic leaders from all religions as well as nonreligious ideologies and cultures join on a common platform to raise their individual and collective voices for the shared stream of respect and love for humanity. They celebrate the freedom of thought and action the US constitution provides to each of us, irrespective of color, creed, or national origin.
The celebration of the “Unity Day” with understanding of its cherished constitution is indeed a potent and a grand monument to the spirit of the national purpose of The United States of America.