Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mourning has to end at some point.

September 11, 2001, just over 7 years ago last week, the United States was attacked by radical Islamic terrorists associated with al-Qaeda  using airplanes as weapons. They crashed several planes into the World Trade Center in New York, bringing the twin towers crashing to the ground. Another plane slammed into the side of the Pentagon, and a fourth plane targeting a location in Washington DC was brought down in Pennsylvania by the passengers of the plane.

I recently bought a new car (much love) and needed to test out the CD player (Your mental transmission fall out from the change of gears? Don’t worry. We’re still on the same road, just in a different lane.) so I went to Best Buy and grabbed Pearl Jam’s Pearl Jam. So far I’m liking it, and to answer the burning question in everyone’s mind: yes. the CD player worked quite nicely. When I got home and was reading the review on Amazon, mainly to see if this was their most current album or not I found this line from the review incredibly annoying, and the progenitor of this post.
On its eighth studio release–and first since 2002–the band socks away the adventurous experimentation that dogged some of its most recent records to investigate a post-September 11, war-ravaged world overflowing with urgency and significance.
It’s been 7 years now. I feel like our period of national mourning should be over. We have to stop living in the horrific images of 7 years ago. We have to be the country that existed on September 10th. A line I hear over and over again is that since September 11th the world has changed. That’s a lie. The world has not changed. There are still people who like us and people who don’t. There are oceans full of fish and creatures who have no concept we exist. There are families out there making a living in countries all over the world who have no concept of whether or not we were attacked or not. Mind-boggling, but all true. The world didn’t change. We allowed ourselves to change. We haven’t acted to counter terrorist attacks. We have reacted to them. Initially that was fine. How could we not, after being hit so staggeringly, so abruptly, so blindingly? We were hurt and angry and the most armed and dangerous country in the world. SOMEBODY was going to get hurt back. And they did… they have.

Seven years though. Seven years later our system of spying on our own citizens in the name of national security continues and increases unabated. Our internment camp, sorry, too loaded a word, concentration camp, no… that’s too loaded too… Our detention of people against whom charges have not been proffered, and convictions have not been obtained continues. Perhaps some of those hundreds who have been held there without charges were anti-American before and willing to do horrific crimes against us. But now… after being locked up for years with no charges and no trial… My guess is we’re doing a damned fine job of recruiting for the other side when we trample people’s rights.

We spy on our citizens, we suspend or ignore, the Fourth Amendment in ever widening circles of exceptions all in the name of National Security. Somehow we have, as a nation, decided that we are willing to give up a little liberty for a little security over and over again. We continue to give up our liberties with no real prove we have gained any security at all. Benjamin Franklin would be appalled. Our forefathers would be appalled. Yes. There is a risk involved in freedom. I would, like Thomas Jefferson, “rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.” Absolute peace and security is China’s goal as well. Do we want to model ourselves after their methods of achieving it?

Music’s job isn’t to “overflowing with urgency and significance” which probably explains the lackluster success of the albums released during that phase of Pearl Jam’s career. We need to get our head space out of the day we were attacked. We need to move our psyche forward. We can’t continue to live in the horrific images of jumpers and collapsing buildings. We as a people and a country didn’t die in those attacks. We should mourn those who did but we MUST go on living our lives and cannot let our lives be defined by the bad things that happen to us any more than any other victim of a violent crime can do that.

We’re a world super-power. As such we must focus on that. We must have goals, ideals, visions that are inspirational to others. We can’t live in that horrible morning 7 years ago. We’ll be nothing but a super-victim if we do. The American Dream wasn’t to be the biggest bully on the block or the most secure country or the country with the biggest walls or most metal detectors. We have GOT to focus on our future with an eye towards making the country a free country. There are no guarantees of safety in the Constitution. Safety is China’s goal… Freedom should be ours.

Yes. September 11, 2001 was a horrible day for our country because of the actions of foreign terrorists on our soil. So many more horrible days have passed since then though as we do to ourselves things that the terrorists could never accomplish, with a fleet of airplanes. Our losses of freedoms are our fault. They took lives. We’re surrendering our freedoms, our liberties, and the very ideals that made this country the greatest country in the world.
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