As the seventeenth anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks passed, we were once again compelled as Americans to remember the raw emotions of that day. Even for those of us old enough to remember what happened as we experienced it, few of us were able to actually grasp the full moral implications of what had occurred, and it may still remain difficult to fully appreciate the complicated legacy of this anniversary and its moral debt. What do I mean by “moral debt“?
The children born the day the Twin Towers came down, showering southern Manhattan in fire, ash, and dust, are now in the last year of their childhoods. In just one year, those children will become adults in the post-9/11 world. What kind of America have those 9/11 children grown up in? Is it really the America we wanted for them? It is the America the 2,977 people who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks would have wanted for these kids? This is the “moral debt“.
Let’s not mince words. The world today is what it has always been, an abattoir of war, death, and human misery, insatiably feeding upon the suspicion and small-minded bigotry of the worst elements of the human hind brained psyche. Clearly, in many ways, we are every bit as flawed today as we were when the first rosy light of the morning of September 11th, 2001 dawned upon Manhattan seventeen years ago, but, honestly, shouldn’t we be better?
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
– Luke 6:31
It feels like we’ve backslid, however, creating moral enemies where ones need not be, adopting the very same kind of self righteous justifications for our actions and beliefs as those 19 hijackers did when they murdered men, women, and children in the name of their twisted beliefs. When the hijackers looked into the frightened faces of the other passengers, did they feel nothing of the common thread of humanity or did their hatred allow them to only see the differences?
When we, as Americans, look into the face of someone who is not like us, what do we see? What are we to do when we hear an immigrant child crying fearfully for the safety of his mother’s arms, or look into the frightened eyes of a young Muslim refugee facing down an angry mob telling her that her family must go back to their war torn country because they aren’t welcome here, or watch a young black man be told he’s not allowed to peacefully protest in his own country?
Can we see the common thread of humanity in their faces, or do we, like the 19 hijackers who callously murdered 2,977 of their fellow human beings, see only differences? How have we taught the children of September 11th, 2001 to see the world? Have we paid our “moral debt” to them?
Liberty is For The Win!