Thursday, September 11, 2003

Remembering 9/11

In every generation there exist a moment in time, a milestone in history that would forever change the outlook of the whole generation. For many of my generation, this significant moment came in the early mornings of September 11th 2001. It was on this day that the world as we knew it changed in a blink in an eye. It was a day of great tragedy and loss for not only the American people but also for many more around the world. It was the day that innocence died along side thousands of people trapped in the crumbling monument which was symbolic of American economic success and achievements. It was the day that became the day of infamy for people of my generation and other generations that will follow until they in turn became complacent again. It was the day that the New York World Trade Center was reduced to rubble by two commercial airplanes hijacked by those whose disregard of innocent lives will mark them forever as monsters and sinners.

On that fateful day, I was reading a Harry Potter book and was just about ready to turn in for the night when S suddenly called me and told me to turn on the TV to the news. The first pictures that I saw didn’t make sense to me as it didn’t occur to me that anything like this could have happened. By the time the realization hit me that I was not watching something out of a disaster movie; I finally recognized the landmark that they were showing burning on TV. I was totally confused at what had caused it and S had to fill me in since he saw more of it before he called me. We both watched in horror as we saw several people shouting out of windows in the first tower with thick smoke billowing out behind them. We watched with terror at scenes of people plunging to their deaths in their desperate attempt to escape the fiery deathtrap. We watched with disbelieve at the scenes of the second airplane plunging down out of a sky like an unholy spear striking deep into the flesh that was New York to ultimately seal the fate of all the unfortunate souls who were present in the building on that fateful day.

We continued to watch until there was nothing else to watch. When we finally processed the horrific images that we had seen on live TV, all we had was our shared grief and questions on what had happened. We both had friends in the US and were very concerned about how they were. We were concerned about how this will impact Malaysia being halfway around the world where this great tragedy had occurred. S and I talked long and hard on the possibilities of a World War happening in our immediate future and whether or not we will ever be ready for it. We talked through the night, trying to assure each other that things will turn out right but deep in out hearts we both knew that things would never been the same again. When we ran out of words to say, we both sat there in silence, connected only by the phone line as we tried to take comfort in each others presence.

I woke up the following day with a numbness of being that I have seldom felt before. The first thing that I remembered wanting to do was to get to the newsstand and get all the papers that I could. I could swear that I have never bought that many newspapers in a day before or anytime after that day. All the newspapers printed in Malaysia on that day carried pages and pages of reports of what had happened in New York and I read every line of each report. Little by little, I began to piece together the puzzle of what had happened and with each piece that fell into place, I grew more and more despondent and angry. I was angry at the soulless killers who thought that they would achieve martyrdom by bathing in the blood of innocent people. I was angry at the people who besmirched the principles of Islam and manipulated the religion to incite acts to unimaginable stupidity and horror. I was angry at those who professed to be a person of faith and yet so willing to break the covenant with Allah by committing self-slaughter.

I spent the better part of that day and the day that followed wallowing in my anger before I finally decided that I would channel my anger to something more productive. I decided that this event will not impact how I move forward in this life. I vowed to continue to life as I have done before as if this act of terror never left its mark on me. I found myself thinking about the line about fear being the mind killer from Frank Herbert’s Dune and came to the realization that dwelling in fear will only give victory to those whose final act in this world was to incite fear and terror. Life had to go on and that I now share the burden of my generation to see that something like the events of September 11th, 2001 would never happened again anywhere in this world.

Two years later, the World Trade Center tragedy still resounds clearly in my mind especially on its anniversary. I’ve also seen that the mistakes of the pasts that led to that tragedy being repeated again by both parties in these grievances. I saw shades of the terror returning; this time much closer to home; in the form of the devastating bombing in Bali, Indonesia which happened exactly 1 year, 1 month and 1 day after the tragedy in New York. I saw the inaptitude of the Bush administration in handling the fallout of this horrendous tragedy and the toll in life that is still being paid today in the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq. I continue to see the Bush administration’s continued ignorance and willful disregard of the root causes of terrorism as they focus more resources into removing public figures from office in foreign countries while all the long fanning the spark that could easily consume all of us in it’s fiery blaze.

I could rant on and on with the things that are happening in the world today but today is not the day. Today is a day that we take a moment to reflect and remember those who lost their lives on this fateful day two years ago. Today is a day to remember how united we were as member of this global community in condemming this act of terror. Today is a day that we renew our resolve that no act of violence by anyone, to anyone and for whatever reason shall be protected by silence and inaction. We owe it to the victims of the New York World Trade Center, Bali, Afghanistan and Iraq to move forward and work together in trying to avoid such events from happening again. Alone we may not be able to change the world but together we have the power to shake the universe. Together we could bring light to the places where shadows of terror dwell may it be in the darkest caves or the brightest offices of power.

As the day draws to a close for me in Malaysia today, I sending a prayer to those who lost their lives on September 11th, 2001, their friends and families in hopes that Allah will continue to keep them safe from harm and give them the strength to face this day as it begins to dawn on their side of the world. Regardless of their faith, my prayers and thoughts are with them tonight. It is the least that I could do.

No comments: