October 5, 2001

Nearly a month has passed since the September 11th terrorist attack took place. The world is a changed place, to be sure. A war looms, a different kind of war, with hidden enemies, sleeper agents and potential gas and biological attacks on United States soil. Nations are uneasy about travel. Economies are even more fragile, worldwide.

But what has changed? We are no less secure than we were before. Obviously, we were not very secure as a nation, for an attack such as that on September 11 to happen with relative ease. No real indication on the underground spy networks. We were caught completely unprepared. And now, weeks later, we are no less secure. If Dateline has any truth to it, our airlines have huge gaping holes in their security, but now, at least it LOOKS more secure.

That's what it's all about. Appearances. We felt safe before. We don't, now. On such are economies built. Without trust in the appearance of the status quo, we don't fly, travel, buy, produce or consume with the same voracity as before. Some would argue that since America already consumes far beyond their needs in natural resources, this cutting back is a good thing. On the one hand, I agree. America is a glutted society, because we felt safe. We had a strong government that protected us and allowed us to not have to worry about anything more important that Tom Cruise's love life.

We don't feel safe now, because we perceive that our government failed us somehow. Maybe they did. However, I have a few words in defense.

When I saw that American flag erected to the top of the rubble on the World Trade Center and another unfurled on the side of the Pentagon, even though I'm not a very patriotic person, those sights stirred something in me. Afterwards, I thought about it, wondering why. These were not people I knew and the attack was far away. The flag is just cloth. But no. Despite these things, I felt something because America means more to me than just a place to live. I'm not a grea world traveler, but I have been to a few other countries. Imperfections notwithstanding, this country is a great place. Why? Because we are built on ideas. Ideas, those intangible things that move each of us to love and hate, buy and save, learn or vegitate, move or stagnate.

What ideas is the United States built on? Yes, commercialism, capitalism, democracy. But at the root of these are the beliefs that each individual is worth something, that each human can and should be able to determine his or her own destiny as they see fit, as long as it doesn't infringe on other's liberties and freedom. It is at these ideas, the foundation underneath this country, that I find my throat catching a little, and a couple of stray tears wetting my eyes.

Here are a few more pictures that really touched me (link no longer available). This is some website someone put together with images from the aftermath of September 11th.


October 20, 2001

Here it is, over a month after the incident that prompted this essay. We are in the middle of the war against terrorism and are experiencing anthrax scares all over the country. Airlines and the stock market are in trouble and there is a lot of uncertainty. Security is rising and laws are being passed to control the masses better, I mean to catch terrorists more easily. In the terrorist hunt, my fear is that all those liberties I tout, all that freedom I hold dear, the basis of this nation's greatness, may be forgotten. Then where will we be? We've already been told by Sun's CEO that we have no privacy. We should get over it. That was a year or two ago (sorry for the geek news reference; if I had a link, I would post it, but he did say it). Now this. I wonder where we will be in a year and what we will have lost.


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