Has it really been ten years?
When it comes to remembering the horrific events of 9-11, I have to admit to a certain confusion.
I don’t understand people’s profound fear of subsequent terrorist attacks relative to other more serious threats to their health, longevity, and quality of life. One half of the U.S. population is expected to be obese by 2030 meaning heart disease and related health problems will explode. One in eight women will get breast cancer. And add Alzheimers, drunk driving, gun violence, and driving while texting to the list of everyday domestic threats to our health, longevity, and quality of life. As a road runner, road cyclist, and driver, I’m much more likely to die from someone in my community texting while driving than I from foreign terrorists.
Of course evil exists and we have to continue to be vigilant, but the “fear paradox” is probably explained by the scale of the 9-11 attacks, the surreal images of the damage permanently etched in our minds, and the fact that we’re more emotional than rational beings. Also, gun and traffic deaths are sporadic, happening in different locations at different times, each death like a drip from a leaky faucet, remaining unconnected and relatively inconsequential in our minds. In contrast, 9-11 was an unprecedented gusher of violence and death replayed on television over and over and over. But I don’t understand why we’re settling for thinking so sloppily.
I don’t understand people’s self-congratulatory “there haven’t been any attacks since” mindset. In terrorism score-keeping, only large-scale attacks on American citizens count? People forget how many foreign nationals were killed on 9-11 and ignore how many terrorist attacks have occurred throughout the world in the last ten years. I don’t understand how many of my fellow Christians in particular emphasize their nationality at the expense of their humanity.
I don’t understand what we’ve learned about the terrorist threat. Ten years on do we have any better understanding of why we were attacked? Or of our fellow citizens of Muslim faith?
I don’t understand why we’re content to let our government fill foreign skies with as many drones as they want. Are young men less likely to die for their religion today? A focus on preventing additional terrorist acts is of course necessary, but we shouldn’t lose focus on the other threats I’ve highlighted, and we shouldn’t pretend military might is a long-term fix.
On Sunday, besides watching football, consider pressing pause with me and reflecting in silence for a few minutes on not just the tragic events of 9/11/01 and the lives lost and the families shattered, but what we can do to create healthier, safer, and more secure neighborhoods, cities, states, provinces, countries, and world over the next ten years.