Another 9/11 has rolled around. And while the grief and anger are still there, and we have renewed cause for concern this year in the rise of ISIS/ISIL, I find that my feelings seem not particularly more pronounced on this day relative to any other. The problems that we are obliged to squarely face endure, and are relevant every day of the year, not just on anniversaries of the September 11th, 2001 Jihadist attacks on the United States.
The sickening brutality of ISIS/ISIL and its ideological fellow travelers such as Boko Haram has been something for the world to behold. If we cannot now see with complete clarity what these scumbags are about, I don’t know what it will take. The fact of things as I see it is that ISIS/ISIL are but a particularly awful symptom, one that is enabled and allowed to exist only to the extent that we lack the resolve to call them what they are and commit ourselves unreservedly to their complete and unconditional defeat.
The broader, underlying problem we face is an erosion of cultural confidence, and I’m sad to say it’s the predictable result of decades of steady, dedicated work by many among us — people whose aim has been to demoralize us and gradually chisel away at the foundations of our belief in who we are and the way that we live. An event such as 9/11 should have brought us to our senses, it seems to me, and brought an end to that idle self-doubt, seemingly born of boredom with years of relative safety and security. But I’ve been proven more wrong in that expectation than in any other of my life. Rather than have a change of heart, our cultural termites dug in and continued their toil. It makes no sense to me to see a culture of great achievement, worthy of celebration and of a strident and confident defense, in such willful and sometimes self-recriminating denial about the threats posed to it. But there it is. It’s an aspect of human nature that I suspect I will continue to struggle to understand for many years to come.
I do feel I’ve made progress, though, in casting off the shadow of gloom this past year and a half or so. It feels as if my thinking has shifted to a point of: OK. So that’s how it is. What are you going to do about it?
Our present condition is not cause to sit in idle resignation. It’s cause to get up, dust ourselves off, and fix the things that matter. And despite all the potential reasons for gloom, I’m doing it with gratitude in my heart, a cheerful demeanor, and a smile on my face — because I’ve learned that no matter what, one cannot allow others to drive him to despair. To have hope of prevailing, we must maintain a steady and undaunted focus on all that is positive in our love for what we hold dear. We must make that love stronger, more resilient, and more lasting than our enemies’ bitterness, brutality, and hate. It’s what I’ve been striving to do, and aim to continue to do, with The No Fear Pioneer (so please give a listen, and stay tuned for more to come).
That’s it for now. As in previous years, I may follow up with some links and quotes later, as I read good work by others. Below are links to my previous years’ 9/11 posts, including the 2009 retelling of my own peripheral but deeply affecting experience of that awful day. As before, I pledge myself never to forget — nor misremember. May we find our way to better times.
My Previous Years’ 9/11 Posts
2013: 9/11, Twelve Years On
2012: 9/11, Eleven Years On
2010: 9/11: Two Songs
2007: 9/11, Six Years On
2005: I Remember
2004: Remembering and Rebuilding (republished here September 12th, 2014)