Saturday, September 11, 2010

On September 11th

For some reason this year's anniversary of the September 11th attacks feels sadder and weighs more heavily on my mind than those in past years - perhaps because it occurs in the wake of the summerlong "Ground Zero Mosque" controversy, with Americans egged on by a crazy Florida preacher and flag-burning Muslim protesters abroad antagonizing each other with one-upped acts of mutual rage and contempt. I'd like to think that tragedies like 9/11 would compel people on all sides of a conflict to reflect on violence, on its causes in the world, on the self-perpetuating and all-consuming cycle of retribution it engenders, and to step away from it. But sadly, if there is one thing we know about human beings it is that aggression, self-righteousness, and intolerance come naturally to us while open-mindedness, understanding, and compromise are things at which we must work very hard to obtain. I understand aggrievement and anger very well, but I do not understand what people who do things like burn qurans or stomp on American flags hope to achieve by expressing their aggrievement and anger in such inflammatory ways. It only widens the gap between people and makes it easier for them to justify maiming each other in the future.

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