My latest article published 09/20/2017
Sept. 11 - plus 16
Time to re-evaluate global antiterror strategy
Sixteen years ago, I was a pharmacy student in Big Rapids, Michigan. I was in the office of one of my professors, having a general conversation, when his phone rang. He became visibly shaken and looked pale as he hung up the phone. “My wife says planes crashed into the World Trade Center,” he managed to mutter and, to be honest, it did not quite register with me. I thought it was an accident – a small-engine plane that lost its course and hit one of the buildings.
I excused myself from the office of my visibly distraught professor and walked down to my lecture room. It was about 30 minutes before the start of class and, as I walked in, the footage of the plane crashing into the World Trade Center was on full display on the big screens. My heart sank as I watched the details start to unfold.
I, along with every other American, made the promise never to forget that fateful day.
Never forget the beautiful lives cut short but this heinous act of aggression.
Never forget the feeling of being attacked on your own soil while doing nothing other than going about your day-to-day business.
Never forget the emotional toll this has taken on us individually and on our country collectively.
Since that day we always remember, as well we should, where we were and how we felt at the particular moment when we fully realized what had just happened.
But what do we do with that memory and where did – more importantly where will – this emotional energy take us?
Let's forgo talking about the monetary cost of the War on Terror we launched after the attacks of 9/11 because no amount of money will do a human life justice. But where is the justice in the incalculable scores of civilian lives lost since then? Staggering numbers ranging in the hundreds of thousands are related to this Global War on Terror. How many orphans, single parents and dismantled families has this war created?
What about the never-ending psychological spiral of bitterness and resentment we have created in those we invaded? Do we not realize that never forget is not an exclusive American sentiment? That the generations growing up in the parts of the world we bomb will grow up never forgetting that it was American planes that dropped American bombs that destroyed their homes? Will they never forget that it was an American soldier with an American weapon who killed their loved ones? What will they do with such memories and, more importantly, where will this emotional energy take them?
What about our friends and neighbors who swore to protect us? Men and women giving the ultimate sacrifice, doing as directed without hesitation to ensure our safety? Shouldn't our elected officials hesitate before sending them into such never-ending battles?
I intentionally pose these questions days after Sept. 11 in hopes that in the wake of our emotional state, we get past feelings of anger, resentment and revenge and reflect upon where we are since that day. Pause to truly think about our response to Sept. 11 and whether our response has helped us heal or made us feel safe.
So I ask of our officials and of you who elect them, what is our final goal? What is our deliverable of these never-ending wars? You can't kill an idea. You can't kill a feeling. You can't bomb hate.
I believe it is high time for re-evaluating our failed strategies and repositioning our status as a peacekeeping nation and a leader of democracy.
Palestinian, Muslim, American, Husband, Father, Academic, Pharmacist, Coffee Addict, Nutella phene, Pseudo writer, Soccer player, former Canadian, Community servant, Pinch hitter imam, interfaith ninja, Intellectual vigilante, and the undisputed KING of snark