Wednesday, September 07, 2011

September 11 retrospective: More on chances missed

Mitch Carnell has a good summary on the sense of missed opportunity in After 9/11, Our Unity Morphed into Rage Ethics Daily 09/06/2011:

For a very short time, our country came together with a sense of communal grief and then a huge spirit of neighbor helping neighbor.

We had all been wounded and shocked. We were catapulted into the horrors of terrorism that the rest of the world already knew.

All too soon our oneness gave way to frustration and rage. Our president expressed our collective hate in language so explosive that even he would come to regret it.

We went to war against people who had done us no harm. We vented our wrath on what we thought was an easy target. We proudly proclaimed, "Shock and Awe."

Here we are 10 grueling years later still mired in the consequences of our revenge. Our nation has sacrificed its blood, emptied its treasury and forfeited its prestige abroad.
I'm usually reserved about collective summaries referring to what "we" did collectively as a nation. But it works here. As the German truism goes, there's not such thing as collective guilt, but there is collective responsibility.



In the end, that unity of "communal grief" and the sense that that "We had all been wounded and shocked" was inevitably fleeting and ambiguous. And what did that "huge spirit of neighbor helping neighbor" really amount to? There were donations to disaster relief, of course. And volunteers for the Ground Zero clean-up. But by far most collective effort went into the vast expansion of the national security state and wars. The "frustration and rage" found far more practical expression than the "spirit of neighbor helping neighbor."

And he ends with an appropriate question:

Perhaps the lessons would be worth the price had we learned from what has transpired, but there is little evidence to show that we have.

There are those who are urging us toward yet another war and other voices who want us to continue the folly of this one.

Where are the voices of reason? Where are the voices of peace?
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