Just like most others, I remember exactly where I was on that September 11th, 12 years ago. At our house in Islamabad, my family was busy with our own evening routines. Our TV was not working so we had no idea until my grandfather called up and told us we needed to watch the news. As we huddled up in front of the little TV in our parents bedroom, watching the towers come down and the events that followed in shock. In that moment, I think we did not realize the enormity of what had happened and how much that incident will change this world we live in. But truly, in the instant that it happened, it all changed, even for us that lived right across the world from where the towers were hit. I had recently started my first year of university and was usually the last person to be interested in politics or news stories but suddenly these were main topics of discussion even in our lectures.
As I remember that day, I am praying for the lives that were lost that morning, and the millions that have lost their lives as a result of that day since then. In the wars, in the drone attacks, in hate crimes, in the terror attacks in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, UK, US and just all over the world. And while this day was terrible, I wish that it had brought the world closer and not more fearful of each other. I wish that we had learned from it, that instead of responding with hate for each other, we had only tried to understand and open our hearts.
But it did open a dialogue, it opened our eyes to a world beyond our own. For those in the west, it showed how their governments’ involvement in other countries across the world, can affect their own world. It showed us Muslims how terror has found a place within us and that it needs thought and action on our part to change things. Those of us living alongside other religions have the additional responsibility now to live better and negate what these fundamentalists are depicting Islam to be, to learn more about our own religion, and to be able to answer questions that people around us have.
The sad part is this. 12 years later terrorism continues to grow despite the efforts done to counter it. How much longer will this work? How many more wars, how many security lapses will it take for us to change the way we fight it? Because whether we are able to see it or not, we are further away from a safer world than we were before 9-11. It is easy to point fingers and attack. It is harder to evaluate our own selves and our actions. But maybe it is time for just that. If for nothing else but for our kids and a better world for them.
I want to share what Kelle Hampton wrote a few years ago,
“Something happened between that fateful day ten years ago and today's memorial that has changed the way I look at the events and effects of September 11. I had children. And everything--everything seems to matter so much more. I don't know how to make sense of it all, and it's difficult to weigh the importance of the safety of our children and our country with the greater principle of changing the world to a place of compassion and peace. I've shielded Lainey's eyes this week from the memorable images of that day--protecting her from things her little 4-year-old mind doesn't need to know quite yet. And yet I want her to know someday because it's important.
And what will I tell her? I don't know. I hope that her world and the world of her children will be so much better than ours. And when my mind stretches and trails off dangerously to a future that overwhelms me, I rein it in to the comfortable, focused task of today. You teach compassion and love. You live compassion and love. I can handle that today.”
Thanks for reading.