I remember where I was when 9/11 happened. I was in my 6th grade reading class and they turned on the TV to show what was happening. I was to young at the time to understand its implications or even what was happening. The only thing I knew was that my teacher was weeping and that many of my fellow students were being taken out of school early. By the end of the day, my class room was less then half full. I biked home once the day was done and my mother, who is not prone to hysterics, said that I was going to go to school the next day despite my protestations.
At the time, it seemed to me that life proceeded as usual. I woke up, I went to school and I came back home. There wasn’t any interruption.
Looking back now, I see how much that moment changed the course of history.
In the space of a week, a state of fear and panic grip the United States. The U.S. lashed out in fear not only at other countries, who were not actually responsible, but also at itself. It instituted harsh and unconstitutional laws to monitor the public as well as to be able to arrest and question different people with no warrant. But beyond all that, the most salient feature of the insanity of that time was the message we were given by our government and media.
It wasn’t to band together. It wasn’t to stand in solidarity with each other. It wasn’t that we shall endure.
It was to shop.
We were inundated with the message to buy buy buy. That even though this was a time of crisis we must continue to spend money. That what was going to sustain us through this dark time was to go shopping. This is the epitome of global capitalism and showed me just how disconnected this society is to the soul of its members.
We need to come back to ourselves. We need to come back to compassion and understanding. We need to transform ourselves to understand the reason why such violence took place because I can assure you it didn’t occur in a vacuum. Those attacks, if nothing else, were a reaction to the global imperialism and while I certainly don’t condone the methods the intention was clear, topple a global empire.
Whether they were successful in that attempt remains to be seen but if it did we want to avoid the empire toppling on us. In order to prevent that we need to realize the reasons why this happened and organize to fill the void of power with our collective power. We need to mobilize so that we make sure that we create infrastructure that supports the poor people and people of color among other things.
I want to extend my heart and my sorrow to all of those who lost their lives and to those family members who lost someone on that day. I also want to extend my heart and my sorrow to the Afghani and Iraqi people. I want to apologize for our gross mistreatment of your countries and your people and the war crimes we committed. And I want everyone to know that change is coming. We are mobilizing to make sure that no more lives are lost through violence and injustice.