Thursday, June 30, 2011

Some thoughts on 9/11

I've been thinking about 9/11 a lot lately. Maybe it's because I'm old enough to fully understand what it was. In 2001 I was only 12 years old and although I knew that something terrible was happening, it was something distant. I was in Moscow at the time and because of the time difference, morning in NY was evening in Moscow. I remember coming home from school, getting dinner with mom and waiting for my dad to come home from work. That evening, dad literally ran into the apartment with what I can only describe as horror displayed on his face. We turned on the TV and there it was: something straight out of a horror movie with unrealistic special effects. That sight of the twin towers with gaping holes in them on fire is something I don't think anyone living that day will forget. Another sight that is permanently embedded in my mind was the clip of some palestinians celebrating 9/11. Those shots alongside Manhattan bring the worst chills through my spine.

Now 10 years later the tragedy somehow got closer. Living in this country and making it my own gave me a better understanding of the full scope of the tragedy that happened that day. I found many sites telling stories of the lucky survivors, but also sites that told the stories of the people who never made it out of the World Trade Center. This particular NY Times article Accounts from the North Tower I am sure brings tears to any person who reads it. Stories like these need to be known and read by everyone living in the US. They make you realize just how strong any country that was able to survive this is. One person responsible for 3,000 deaths of innocent people and the lives of everyone who was affected.

This brings me to something that happened in the days after Bin Laden's death. Some people, including myself, were proud of the people who were able to rid the world of a monster responsible for 9/11. Loved ones of the victims and just regular people were finally able to get some kind of closure. I personally think that Bin Laden did not deserve a bullet to his head, he would justly have to experience death 3,000 times the way those innocent people did and I still don't think that would be enough. Am I a bad person for being happy that Bin Laden was found and killed? The world now doesn't have the one person who decided to kill thousands of people to prove something.

While some people were on Ground Zero celebrating, facebook and other social media displayed a quote that was of a completely different nature. ‎"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." The quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. has a pretty obvious message: do not be happy about anyone's death, even if he or she murdered thousands of people. I obviously don't agree with this message in relation to 9/11, but what is more important, the message was misquoted. Here's an excerpt from an article in Washington Post: "Only, as too many things are now a days, the quote is only half accurate. We sought solace in misattribution. The first sentence of the quote, as Megan McArdle found at the Atlantic, does not seem to have been said by Martin Luther King Jr. (The rest of it — “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate:only love can do that.” — is King’s writing.) When people started hearing it wasn’t King, some switched the attribution to Mark Twain. It doesn’t look like Twain said it either." The first part that seemed relevant to Bin Laden is not even by Martin Luther King Jr.! Regardless of who came up with the quote ( although I think that spreading something that is not from a valid source is stupidity) the whole quote phenomenon bothers me. Who are these people to judge how we're supposed to feel towards Bin Laden. Most of the people who posted the quote did not have a loved one trapped in a burning building hight above the ground with not way to escape. They did not get phone calls from their relatives saying it is hot in the building and the final "I love you". I believe that the only people who can publicly cite quotes about forgiveness of the enemy are those who were directly affected by him. If you are, like me, lucky enough to never have had a tragedy like that in your life - great, but don't go judging people who felt that they finally got some kind of justice.

I might sound like I'm just overly angry, but i've never been too quick to judge anyone. If someone thinks the mentioned quote is appropriate for Bin Laden's death, that's their right, but they should also keep in mind that citing it everywhere on your facebook and twitter can be offensive to someone.

This year on the 10th anniversary a memorial will be opened. The concept of 3,000 trees and two large square pools with cascading water and victims' names on the perimeters is beautiful. A memorial like this is a reminder of that day and the fact that no day should be taken for granted.

No comments: