For September 11, ten years on

… I want to link, first, to these reflections on 9/11, that I published in Friends Journal in 2007, and to this column, that I wrote for the Christian Science Monitor on 9/11 itself, and which ran in the paper two days later.
Tomorrow, on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I’ll be spending a lot of time with my fellow Quakers here in Charlottesville. It feels like the right thing to do. At the Quaker meeting for worship (worship service) that we held very soon after the original 9/11, I said that then was the time that “the rubber really hit the road” for the adherence nearly all Quakers profess to the testimony of nonviolence and to the avoidance not just of all wars but also of the causes of war.
I believe that today, more Americans understand the futility and damaging nature of wars– all wars– than did ten years ago. But still, far too many of our countrymen and -women remain susceptible to arguments like those made in favor of the military “action” or military “intervention” in Libya earlier this year. (The advocates of such “interventions” are nowadays careful not to come straight out and call them “wars”.)
I mourn for each of the lives cut short on 9/11. But I mourn equally for each one of the lives cut short as a result of all the American and American-led wars since then. I bear a heavy weight of concern for the men still incarcerated under inhuman conditions and with no access to due process and no hope of any timely and fair trial– in Guantanamo and other elements of the U.S. ‘black’ prison system worldwide. I mourn for the moral blindness and real spiritual wounds suffered by all those who act with, or condone, violence. And I am staggered to think of the “opportunity costs” the whole world has incurred as a result of all the United States’ military spending since, and largely as a result of, what happened on 9/11: All the wonderful, life-supporting projects that that money could and should have been used for instead, which would have made the world a far safer place for everyone– including Americans.
Since 9/11, my own three children have grown into mature, capable, and wonderful adults. Two of them have married and now have children of their own. We all have a new generation to raise. The need to build a better world for these little ones– for all the little ones around the world!– has never felt more urgent. Our generation has a lot to apologize for. But luckily, many of us are still around, with a good few years of energetic and loving activism left in us, to try to make some good amends and get the global situation turned back onto a better track…
Here’s what I’m going to be doing next weekend: Friday night, speaking at the Annual Conference of the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation in Washington DC; and Sunday noon, speaking at the second conference this year that marks the 50th anniversary of Eisenhower’s 1961 warning about the dangers of the emergence of a “Military Industrial Complex.” This one’s in Charlottesville.
These both feel like great ways to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the tragedies of 9/11. Come to one or both, if you can.

3 thoughts on “For September 11, ten years on

  1. Alice

    The numbers that are always cited during or after a war are the number of dead participants. Sometimes civilian deaths are also mentioned. These people were important to their fellow participants and to their friends and families. Notation should be made.
    But the dead are dead.
    Among those left living are the wounded. These people, whether military personnel or civilian, have reduced the ranks of fully functioning persons; those upon which society depends to hold a line of normalcy. Not only are they unable to fully serve their role, they by necessity extract from that society a larger measure of goods and services than was formerly true. Sometimes this dependency lasts for years, even a lifetime.
    Isn’t it time we focused our reporting more on this fact?

  2. annie

    thank you helena, you said that very eloquently. i too mourn for everyone who has died and suffered as a result of that day and all their family members whose lives may never be the same.

  3. anonymous

    Helena, many years ago, I thought that American Nation was made of people like you. I was very naive, young, easily influenced by the image in the media – and now I see that vast majority of the Americans are not like you, not like Quakers. How sad. I wish sometime I could be like you.
    Thanks for your blog.
    Anonymous friend.

Comments are closed.