We will be silent again today, if only for moments. Moments where we will quietly reflect and ponder the meaning of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, or perhaps turn our minds forward in a vain attempt to glimpse an unknowable future.
Things are different now than one year ago, but in many ways the same. We are one year older, and wiser with the lessons formed in shock and grief 365 days ago. We have moved forward from the sorrow and numbness of that day, first with baby steps. But as the year progressed with its background noise of anthrax, constant terror alerts and a slow return to the Sept. 10 news of celebrity weddings, kidnappings and disease spreading mosquitoes, some of us have progressed in our healing ever faster. We have fought one war (are still fighting it in fact), and our nation’s leaders are even now debating whether to get involved in another one with Iraq.
Somewhere along the path of this past year, our nation lost its unity. Now we are something else… if not divided as a nation, then at least divided on where we want this nation to go. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Blind unity can be unhealthy and dangerous. Our nation was built on robust, sometimes loud and obnoxious, debate. In this, at least, we have returned to the norm.
In last year’s Our View, which ran on the front page of the Sept. 12 issue, the Collegian Editorial Board made an impassioned plea for students, community members – indeed the people of the world – to set aside their prejudices once and for all and march forward together towards a more peaceful existence. In many ways we have failed this challenge.
But, perhaps, failed is too strong a word. The events of Sept. 11, 2001 brought out the best in many people and the worst in others. Since that day, there is no doubt that we have slipped back a bit, allowed some of the old prejudices to seep back in, while adding new stereotypes to our collective list of hate and mistrust.
Perhaps a year is not enough time to pass judgment. Perhaps in 10, 25, 100 years we will be able to look back and see Sept. 11, 2001 as some sort of turning point, when the world finally decided to give peace a chance. Perhaps not. Peace may always have to come at a price, and maybe it is destined that millions more will have to die before that shining vision is finally realized.
While we are waiting for the world, though, there is no reason why each of us can’t try and change ourselves. We can view this anniversary as a time to reflect on the past, or we can view it as a point to move forward from. A time to adjust. A time to “strive forward and accept the challenge of transforming our future and promoting peace in our hearts and in our world.”
A year on, those final words of the Sept. 12, 2001 Our View still retain their power. They resonate with hope, and offer up again the challenge for another year.