15 Sep 2001 aelman   » (Journeyer)

At the risk of offending my fellow Advogato-dwellers, and attracting more flames, I wanted to post my take on Tuesday's tragedy _somewhere_.

Like a lot of other people, I've spent a lot of time over the past few days trying to make sense of the senseless and find some meaning in these meaningless acts. I've alternately been inspired by and incredibly depressed by my own thoughts and conversations with my friends, as well as the many analyses I've read here and elsewhere.

My own conclusion: I am proud to be an American today. The values my country stands for are the values displayed by the NYC firefighters who have risked and lost their lives trying to save others. They are the values displayed by the passengers of United flight 93, who apparently were able to prevent the hijackers of that flight from crashing it into yet another building, saving countless lives at the expense of their own. We are a nation of heroes, and we prove that every time a natural or man-made disaster hits in our country.

But that's the problem: in our country. As we all know, the United States has acquired a reputation in the rest of the world as an arrogant, stupid, and well-armed bully. Most Americans simply do not understand this; our media provides abysmal coverage of world events and our role in them. What we know is filtered by a media who tries to simplify world events in a way that makes Americans comfortable, which results in a heavily biased understanding of the world and the effects of our government's actions. I do not blame any kind of conspiracy for this. I don't think there's much point to blame. I think we need to understand what we need to do now to prevent this from happening again.

We can and should punish those responsible for these acts. I hope we don't go any farther than necessary. And we can and should improve our security to lessen the odds of such an event happening again. But no amount of punishment will deter suicide bombers, and no amount of security will prevent these kinds of acts.

We will be safe when, and only when, our actions in the world reflect the same heroic values that we have honored in the past few days. We need to be ready to sacrifice some of our prosperity, let alone our very lives, to help those in the world who are affected by natural and man-made disasters, poverty, and oppression. We need to stop acting in our "national interests," and start acting in the best interests of all the peoples of the world.

When our actions in the world reflect these values that we all share, attacking Americans will be unthinkable. Not because of the threat of overwhelming response, but because we will finally be the light unto the nations that we all want to be, and that we know we can be.

There are a lot of things we need to do to accomplish this. We need to start by demanding better world affairs coverage from our media, and by trying to understand the events and situations in the world from more than a single perspective. We then need to pressure our leaders to act in ways consistent with our highest values.

The only good thing that I can see coming out of this horrific tragedy is a new resolve for all humanity to prevent events like this from happening ever again, not just in the United States but anywhere in the world. I hope and pray that Americans can find a way to look past our own narrow interests and finally show the world the values that we hold highest. We just can't hide anymore.

Latest blog entries     Older blog entries

New Advogato Features

New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.

Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.

If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!