I went down to town today, before the time of the silence. I needed to go to town, but I also wanted to be with other people at that point. All the shops had posters in their windows explaining they would be holding the silence at 1.46 (British Summer Time), at that time a whistle sounded, the lights in the store were dimmed and the busy store quietened as people really did stop, fall silent.
What struck me in those minutes was the ordinariness of the day, just as last September 11th was an ordinary day for the people of New York, the people boarding planes, those in the Pentagon. An ordinary day, going about usual business.
I guess that is why people who don’t have a direct connection with anyone who was killed in this tragedy feel so strongly about it, these were ordinary people like us. I stand among the people who would point out the number of children who die in developing countries each day due in part to the acts of Western nations, but understand that it is harder to see through the eyes of someone in Afghanistan than of someone ‘like us’.
Today however I am more afraid of the power of our own nations than I am of terrorist acts. I’m not a pacifist to an extreme, I recognise that sometimes force is necessary, however I am afraid, afraid that the events of one year ago are being used to justify worse atrocities. I don’t believe that we can fight terror with fire power, all that will do is to create thousands more young people who will happily give their life in attempting to destroy the nation that killed their parents; their siblings and friends when it dropped it’s bombs on their homes.
Perhaps we could change things if we started to look at why these nations are full of people so angry with the West, really looking at it. Is there anything you and I and our governments are doing that could cause hatred against us? If there is can this be stopped? What can I do that can make a difference.
Remembering September 11th is important. Honouring those who died, particularly while trying to save lives, is important as is caring for those who were personally involved or who are mourning a loved one – but also remembering that urge that so many people had to ‘do something’, grab that thought and run with it. Do something. Do it on a local level, don’t add to the atmosphere of fear. Educate yourself as to what is happening in the world. I don’t have any answers because I’m just trying to figure this out for myself, but if some good is to come from what happened one year ago today I believe it can only come through a deep desire for peace from all of us.