Twenty Years On we pay homage to the victims and survivors of 9/11. I have friends who were psychologically and physically affected by the attack. I personally experienced a mental gut-wrenching while watching the attack live on TV, saw the second plane heading for the towers and realized in an instant that the timing was explicitly focused on the first responders to the initial attack. Television has never made me physically ill, but that scene almost made me vomit. I think the most profound thing I experienced was the utter helplessness and loss of agency in that moment. Not I, nor the military, nor the government, nor anyone, could do anything to stop the juggernaut.
The sadness and anger that lingers twenty years later should be directed, I think, not externally but at our own selves and our government for reacting viscerally and emotionally to the attack, rather than cooly, and logically. The past twenty years have shown us, through profound changes to our society, that the attack achieved its aims, much as we would like to deny it.
Unlike Imperial Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor to which the 9/11 attack is often compared, Pearl Harbor caused the nation to react in anger and determination. 9/11, to react in anger and fear.
We’re still reacting from fear twenty years on, proving, if nothing else, that that emotion is the strongest driver of political change known to us, a vulnerability that we are aware of but continually ignore to our own great peril.
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