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Sept. 11, 2001, was a day of confusion, of tragedy, of anger and most of all, of fear.  I can bet that your heart was racing, your palms were sweaty—or cold.  You didn’t want to go outside, you wanted to hear a comforting voice, to hold a hand, to know that your loved ones were safe.

And that level of fear is nothing compared to the New Yorkers who saw and heard and felt the attacks, the Washingtonians who shuttled their colleagues away from the Pentagon blast, the folks on Flight 93 who fought back. The memory of that fear has stayed with me.

So my question to you, this day, six years on, is this: Do you feel safer?

Do you feel safer now?

And if you don’t—and I don’t—ask yourself this other question: Why not?

Why, after 2,000 days, after trillions and trillions of dollars spent, after 4,000 military deaths in Iraq (and 680 in Afghanistan, and why don’t we know how many civilians?)—why don’t we feel safer?

And I’m not even talking safer than we did before 9/11, which should be our goal.

“9/11 changed everything!” they say, and sure it did, but lots of things change everything.  The atomic bomb, the discovery of penicillin, calculus, the telegraph, the iPhone, fire.  Things get shook up, they get figured out, they get repaired, they get better.  I’m not even talking about better than before.  I’m talking about better than after.  I’m talking about better than the day Osama bin Laden was named as the leader behind the attacks.

Why, if according to today’s official White House statement about 9/11, “Since September 11, 2001, The President’s Top Priority Has Been Protecting The American People From Attack,” don’t we feel safer?

Why can the country that could build the Panama Canal, create the Interstate Highway System, win World War II, tame the Wild West, abolish slavery (well, after dozens of other countries did, but still…), and invent rock and roll, why can this country not make people feel less afraid than they did six years ago?

Why? Today, while you’re thinking about the tragedy that occured six years ago, think also about fear, and remember that the best way to stop being afraid, is to stand up and face those who foster that fear.

Overheard

“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?

Comments

 

 

 

 

 

Travis:

How many successful terrorist attacks have there been on US soil since Sept 11, 2001?

 

Posted by Ryan Cousineau
  at 8:24 pm on Sep. 11, 2007

 

 

 

By Al Qaeda? None that I know of.

How about the number of terrorism related charges filed in the U.S.? There have been about 500 or more since 2001.

But my point isn't about if we ARE safer, it's about if we FEEL safer. Do we, looking ahead, see an increased or decreased level of fear about terrorism now than we did, say, 5.5 years ago?

 

Posted by Travis Smith
  at 8:32 pm on Sep. 11, 2007

 

 

 

"Feel safer"?

That's an awfully odd metric.

My answer to your question ("why don't we feel safer?") would be, mostly, that we're very bad at judging relative risks.

How bad? Very very bad. Levitt and Dubner, in "Freakonomics" use a simple example of just one minor failure of risk perception: a swimming pool in a household poses a far greater risk to the lives of children than a handgun.

Now before I told you that (or before you read Freakonomics), would you have felt that way?

 

Posted by Ryan Cousineau
  at 8:50 am on Sep. 12, 2007

 

 

 

Well, actually yeah, I had a house with a pool and I realize the danger they pose.

Besides, and this is a tangent, that stat is pretty misleading: It doesn't take into account that houses have one pool but multiple guns, and it's a stat for all guns, not just for handguns.

http://www.freakonomicsbook.com/thebook/ch5.html

But the main point is that, regardless of our improper and poor judgement about risk (like, let's worry about speed limits, not terrorists and save even more lives) -- regardless of that, our relative state of fear, I'd say, is worse today than then. And I don't want to live surrounded by fear. Which is my point.

 

Posted by Travis Smith
  at 11:02 am on Sep. 12, 2007

 

 

 

I stood on 6th avenue and watched those towers burn - knowing that one of my family members was burning inside one of them. And let me say this: as much as I hate Bush, as much as I feel he has done everything - everything - wrong since that day... there is nobody on earth who could have made me feel safer after what I saw that day.

 

Posted by Justin
  at 6:07 am on Sep. 14, 2007

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