Today is what I would typically call the 11th day of Unofficial October or The 11th Octoberian Day, but for the sake of this post, I'll keep things traditional and call today by it's official date, September 11th or, as Americans notate, 9/11, the anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The, for lack of a better term, catchphrase for 9/11 has been "Never Forget". People usually say things like "I will never forget when..." or "I'll always remember..." or something to that affect. I must admit, it's a very difficult day to forget as I remember exactly how that morning, "That Fateful Tuesday" (which was the title of one of my favorite short stories I've ever written in high school prior to the attacks and I phrase I use because, September 11th, 2001 was indeed a Tuesday) went down, but this isn't the post for that.
It's been 22 years since those airplanes were hijacked and used as weapons and the country has change so dramatically since then. This past week, and particularly this past weekend, I took some time to reflect on the world around me and I don't recognize it. So I felt the best use of this Monday to share what I remember about the world.
I remember when it wasn't cool or popular to hate publicly. The idea that someone would lead a team or the country and a proud and open bigot was next to never a thing. In the rare cases that it was, the bigotry was tone down to near zero and played off as some individual gripe instead of a hateful ideology. I remember when such a person would be publicly shamed, not because of a "culture of canceling people", but because as a culture, we didn't tolerate such things.
I miss that.
I remember when the country felt whole...at least as whole as America could be. America felt it was united for the first time in my life. There was that looming distrust for Arab and Muslim people which was unfair as much as it was understandable. Look, I'm going to be clear here: I'm not saying that "hating Arabs" or "hating Muslims" was right or good, then, now, or ever, but given what look we KNEW and what little the average person suspected it, (and how the news framed it with their lack of knowledge) the average American didn't understand the "extremist" or that this wasn't was Islam taught. To the average American, typical Muslims were being radicalized and purposefully hiding among us. There was a secret that we didn't understand and it was hard for the average American who didn't typically interact with Muslim or Arab people to filter the difference between terrorists and people who just happen to look like them.
Islamophobia and Xenophobia are obviously wrong!
The country did feel (generally) united. We felt that, as a nation, we were all on the same side and focused on the same goal - protecting the homeland.
Today, there is no unity. Even the hateful people who are reading from the same book aren't on the same page and likely reading different editions. Even as I wrote those last couple paragraphs, the weight of America's division, then and now, is heavy on my heart. Thinking back, I remember what I heard shared in the news and from people here and there and I wish that someone would have been honest and brave enough to make a bigger deal about the peaceful religion Islam actually is. I wish the "average American" did their own research about topics like this. Hell, writing all this just reminds me of when people did learn and think for themselves. I remember when there was pride in research and good-faith questioning of the world.
I miss that.
I remember when you could trust the truth. To be clear, I don't mean "I remember when you could trust people" but when you could trust that green was green and water was wet without a million people unified in telling you all the inaccurate reasons why you're wrong - even though you're not.
You could trust information from credible sources and in fact, the idea of a "credible source" still existed! It scary to walk to the world and hear report of people who just don't know what they think they know. To believe something as fact, be wrong, but stand so firmly in ignorance that they can't handle or accept that they could be wrong.
I've seen the dangers in such a mindset as we all have. No longer are people "quietly ignorant". The loudest voices are society's toast and spreading shit claiming it's peanut butter and pouring vinegar claiming it's water. And the fool knows not the difference.
I miss that.
This isn't my favorite blog entry, but it's an honest one. The intended take-away from this is that we remember how things once were and WHY. The past needed correction and it's not ALL bad today, but there are some important realities that we must collective focus on or we're at risk of losing them and are souls along with it.
Choose knowledge over ignorance. Choose Peace and love or hate and bias. Accept your own faults and embrace your differences as strengths.
Things are tough., they always have been, but someone once reminded me that I've already survived every terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad thing that's ever happened to me...
...and so have you.
- The Moon