dark days behind us, brighter days ahead

I don’t have much to add to my thoughts about 9-11 other than what I wrote last year. I have seen nothing in the overall actions of the US government to make me think that anything is really being done to bring the perpetrators to justice.  Be that as it may, the time has come to face the facts:  the world faces threats far more horrible than terrorism.  I say that as someone who works in lower Manhattan, arguably at the front lines of America’s war on terror.  Yet that war is not the worst we face, by any means.

A war on cancer has been placed on the back burners while billions were spent in overseas wars. Obesity is winning the war on America’s health.  The war on the environment rages on, with the forces of climate change clearly in control of both the battles and the overall war.  And the war on women and children continues across the globe, from sex slavery to a lack of education for female children.

At some point 9-11 will have to turn from a day to remember a terrible tragedy (and trust me, it had more effect on me than almost any other experience in my adult life – I will not forget it) to a day to reflect on evil defeated, at least in the short term, by good. The outpouring of support from the rest of America and the world on that horrible day should remind us that there is a deep well of human compassion as well as strength to pull together.  I hope someday we’ll move past arguments in America about who loves their country more and start thinking about who is willing to wage all-out war on cancer, on climate change, on the mistreatment of the people least able to defend themselves, on intolerance and religious extremism.

Evil people will always be with us, but that should not drive the actions of good people. The events in Madrid and London reminded us that evil won’t die – it just sleeps for a while.  At the same time, the whole world is lifted up by efforts for change.   When female children are educated, mindsets change.  When brothers aren’t killed fighting in religious wars, hearts are less heavy.  When efforts to make cleaner air and water come to fruition, everyone benefits.  America’s 9-11 will always be a harsh reminder that evil people will kill for no reason, but America’s 9-11 will grow – I hope – into a day that shows that good people come together in the face of hatred and fear and evil; they overcome and endure.

15 comments

  • greg the writer

    Evil yet sleeps in the lurks of the human heart even as the light contests for it's soul. It is in us all but like mud in the bottom of a lake it stirs the most violently feat of influence. Spelling intended. By the way broke a frugal rule and bought an iPhone from whence this comment comes!

    All the best with your vacation!

  • you know, I don't really think that there will ever be a cure for cancer. The drug companies are too invested in the expensive treatment of it. If there's a vaccine that prevents it etc they are going to lose a huge amount of income. Cancer is big business. Unless they can come up with a way that the cure makes them more money than than the treatment, there won't be a cure.

  • Steve, I love your blog and share many, if not all, of your political views. Today's post really touched me, and I wanted to say thank you for sharing your view and not being afraid to talk about potentially inflammatory subjects. I'm quite sure that you'll be a permanent fixture in my google reader.

    • Thanks, Carrie, that means a lot to me. I always have thought that day we stop talking about inflammatory subjects is the day we aren't human anymore.

  • I hope one day 9/11 will be seen as a day of hope that jump-started a new realization. When people realized that we need to change our thoughts and attitudes and figure out a way to work with each other not against.

    I don't see this happening just yet, at not in the general masses. But it can be accomplished.

  • I do agree that the reason we are not seeing cures for more of the world's diseases is because there is too much money being made on their treatment.

    I was pretty devastated really, when I finally realized that drug companies and hospitals aren't necessarily there to make us better, as much as they are there to make a profit.

  • I don't think I comment enough here, mostly because almost every time you write something I don't feel like there is anything I could possibly add. I enjoy everything you write and your perspective is refreshing in this community. This is no exception and the post from last year made me cry. My point is, Thanks, Steve. Well said.

    • That's such a compliment that I hardly know what to say – I'm sorry I made you cry, but I understand why you felt that way. Thanks so much, Emily.

  • I lost two valued coworkers on 9/11, one on each of the planes out of Logan that hit the two towers. I remember that day, every move, every thought, every news item, better than I do yesterday. As I get older, the day affects me more deeply. I don't think of good and evil so much as I do the lives that have touched my own life, and are no longer there. I'm off now to join some of my former colleagues to toast to their memory.

    • And really, Curmudgeon, past thinking about the grand nature of good versus evil and man's relationship with God and the universe and whatnot there's really the simple fact that life's a muddle of relationships and every time one of them disappears, life's a little less. Like John Donne said, “any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.” – but it applies even more to those close to you. I am sorry for your loss.

  • move to portugal

    I echo everything Emily says Steve. I don't comment enough either, however your posts are often very moving, very thought provoking and usually spot on, this one is no different.
    -Laura

  • as someone who was also at a ground zero that day, i can fully relate to this. i have always hoped that we can get to the point where we turn our tragedies into reasons for ending other tragedies.

  • move to portugal

    I echo everything Emily says Steve. I don't comment enough either, however your posts are often very moving, very thought provoking and usually spot on, this one is no different.
    -Laura

  • as someone who was also at a ground zero that day, i can fully relate to this. i have always hoped that we can get to the point where we turn our tragedies into reasons for ending other tragedies.

  • as someone who was also at a ground zero that day, i can fully relate to this. i have always hoped that we can get to the point where we turn our tragedies into reasons for ending other tragedies.