Saturday, September 11, 2010

What I Think About on 9/11

Like most people I'm hearing from today, I also remember the events of my day on September 11, 2001. It was a sad, terrible, and scary day and I needed something to make me feel safe and assure me that everything would be alright. I remember putting up the American flag with my dad at his office. On the roof of the complex we saw a green praying mantis and I quickly took it as a good omen. Then, I began to see everyone coming together, people helping each other, caring about each other. It gave me some hope that overshadowed the fear.

However, 9/11 also sparked a lot of hate that was wrongly targeted at regular people and U.S. citizens. I didn't see this at the time in my small, white farming town. However, only 30 minutes away, my husband (whom I hadn't met yet) was becoming the target of hate crimes because of his religion and the color of his skin. Psychologically, I understand that people feel the need to blame something/someone in situations like this - you try to put information and people into boxes to categorize and understand the situation. But fear, ignorance, and hate, as we have seen throughout history, can trigger people to do terrible things.

Today, I feel like that same fear and hate have been exacerbated after years of war, children left motherless or fatherless, inaccurate media coverage, more security in airports, The Patriot Act, and political and community "leaders" that promote hate and segregation, etc. NPR has been reporting on the increased Islamaphobia and hate crimes towards Muslims and I have seen this as well - on NYC streets towards my husband, vandalism to our car, at my work, comments at the end of news articles I read... There is less tolerance, it seems, when what we really need is a cultural center that would bring people together, to learn about each other and care about each other.

Today, when I woke up and realized what day it was and that my husband was currently on the bus and train to work, I cried. Many people are marking this day with sadness and remembrances, but many are also marking it with hate. Today I am marking with love and I hope that people realize that these tragedies and events affect everyone, whether it's directly or indirectly. This morning I cried, praying that everyone who sees my husband today - on the bus, the train, the streets of Chicago - will be marking the day with love and acceptance, so that my jaanu comes home safely.

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