Sitting on the floor in my parents’ room, I watched, wide-eyed, as the planes crashed into the World Trade Center and sent the two towers crumbling down.
I was ten years old then – old enough to know that everything I was seeing is real, old enough to know destruction and suffering when I see them, old enough to know that these were fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters and friends whose lives have been stolen. I was also old enough to know that New York City is thousands of miles away from where I live. But I wasn’t old enough to understand that it was “an attack against America.”
Now, at 22 and knowing a lot more about 9/11, I understand that not being an American and not being in America kept me safe that day. I also understand that, for the people (yes, they are still people) behind the attacks, it was an assault solely and specifically intended to inflict unimaginable pain to the people of the United States.
I do not accept that.
I am not an American. But I am, like you and everyone else in this world, a human being. To my ten-year-old eyes then and to my 22-year-old eyes now, it was and still is an attack against human beings – human beings who just happened to live in another country. Aside from the smallest of matters such as skin color and language, I am no different from any of the people who were killed. So what could possibly stop them from crashing airplanes in my country? Or yours?
When does a crime against a country become a crime against humanity? The answer? Always.
If we leave the memories of 9/11 to the Americans, if we deem the Holocaust as just another part of Jewish history, if we continue to label such unspeakable acts as crimes against one race or religion or gender or whatever it is that divides us into groups and categories, then we’re going to have to prepare ourselves for more senseless tragedies and atrocities.
I’m not saying the hate and violence can cease to exist. Frankly, I don’t think it can. There will always be someone hating on someone else. But just because the one experiencing the hate isn’t us, doesn’t mean we can just sit idly by until it’s too late to actually do something about it. It’s relatively easy to go against one person; it’s a lot harder to go against two, all the more the whole world.
Let’s make it a huge pain in the ass for the people who choose to do more harm than good.