Wednesday, September 11, 2013

On 9/11, or Can't We All Just Get Along?

So, today is a thing. A day on which our sense of superiority and security was shaken. Angry, misguided zealots chose to attack innocent, unarmed civilians in an attempt to knock us down a peg. Lives were lost, and under-appreciated, under-paid public servants followed their calling, risking and sometimes losing their lives to save others.

That event sparked a war that has continued these last twelve years. Many more lives have been lost in the wake of that tragedy. 

But something good did come of it. At least for awhile, it didn't matter if you were from New York or Texas, California or Nebraska; it didn't matter what party you aligned yourself with or what other things we all had going on. For a time, we were all just Americans. We became that which we so often say is the best thing about our country, but we so often fail to demonstrate. We were one. 


At heart, I remain a dreamer. As often as my faith in humanity is trampled and abused by the actions and words of people who honestly should know better, I still have to believe we can be better. So it is my hope that someday, this tragedy will be used as a catalyst for peace rather than an excuse for continued war. I know that as long as politicians-- no, *people* place more importance on power and the bottom line than on doing the Right Thing, that dream will remain out of reach. 

So it falls to us. We, the people, from varying backgrounds and with varying labels we use to define ourselves, who must rise above the oversimplified sentimentality that these powermongers would use to control us. We, who must use the faculties granted us to THINK. 

It's difficult. It's always easier to just go with the flow and not to think too much. Hell, that's how I am able to enjoy movies most of the time without hulking out in a feminist rage. But when it comes to the serious stuff, we can't afford to be so cavalier. We have to do better. We have to stop relying on mainstream media, advertising companies, and Hollywood writers to do our thinking for us. 

I know it's a lot. It means sacrificing that latest episode of Real Housewives or that extra hour or two of browsing through pictures of cats. But if it means finding better ways to deal with your fellow humans, don't you think it's worth it?

And empathy itself is difficult. We have so many instincts screaming at us, saying "that person is Other" and demanding that we shun, ridicule, or despise Other. We can do better than that. Unless you have some sort of brain dysfunction that leaves you incapable of thinking about more than just your basest instincts, we all have the cognitive ability to be better. We have the ability to recognize that the urge to commit violence on someone who dresses differently comes from that stupid, lizard-brain place. Now, when that place is saying "fire bad," you should listen. When it says "need water" after you've been wandering the desert for a day or two, it knows what's up. When you are in a social situation and that part of your brain is telling you someone is a threat because they look different, you need to tell it to shut the hell up and get back to you when your life is actually in danger. Now, if that different person pulls a gun on you, sure. Until then, we all just need to take a freakin' chill pill and live and let live. 

Tl;dr: 9/11 was tragic, but please stop using it as an excuse to be a dick. 

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