9/11 has become an important day in American History. The events on this historic day have influenced our thinking process and our life styles in a big way both positively and negatively. Now we reach the air ports ahead of our flight time, don’t just ignore unattended backpacks in the shopping malls and don’t scream at Air Hostesses mid flight because our drink is two minutes late. At the same time, sadly enough, we don’t trust our neighbors, especially if they look different, as much as we used to even if we have lived next door to them for a number of years.
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9/11 also has brought a lot of our behaviors into lime light, behaviors that need introspection to say the least. Some of the things I have noticed since that fateful day are disturbing. Following are a few examples. This list is by no means exclusive but just an attempt to start an analyses of our behavior
Standing at a gas station after 9/11, I saw small, hand held, American Flags being sold. Upon closer examination I noticed the words “Made inChina” written on them. A flag not only represents the name of a nation, it represents the very ideology that nation stands for. We, inAmerica, stand for Democracy and equal rights for all human beings, irrespective of their gender, cast, creed or religion. Our children are taught in the schools to live by the principles, quote “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” – Declaration of Independence. We were importing symbols of these words from a country that stands absolutely against these principals. Sadly enough, our big American companies were thinking of their bottom line rather than a collective national grief because buying these flags from China was probably cheaper for them than buying from Americans. Selling it to emotional Americans during their grief was adding to the bottom line of these businesses. I felt that there should be a ban on importing our flag from any other country. The flag should be MADE IN AMERICA.
9/11 also exposed our collective ignorance about other countries and cultures. I read about a Sikh being killed in Arizona because he had a turban on and was taken to be a Muslim. Sikhs and Muslims are from different religions, different philosophies and different regions. Still most Americans were not aware of their differences. When some of our leaders, both political and religious, started talking about crusades, we probably alienated a lot more Muslim population around the world. We probably made more enemies after 9/11 than we had before. I remember going to a music store a few years back to buy a music CD for my nephew. I saw CDs of pornographic obscene rap music being sold for $16.00. Then I saw a heap of CDs in the centre of store with a sign in the center ‘CDs for under $3.00’ On top of that heap I saw a CD of Tchaikovsky being sold for $1.99. I realized at that time we were going through a period of intellectual bankruptcy. It was demonstrated amply after 9/11.
A Divided Nation.
The unity shown immediately after 9/11 was very short lived. Today we are a nation more divided than ever. These divisions are strictly along political party affiliations. It was demonstrated amply during our recent debt ceiling crisis. We saw S&P downgrading our credit rating, not because we are economically weak, but because our politicians demonstrated a childish mentality of not listening to the opponent’s arguments and displayed a total inability to come to a collective agreement. It was a typical example of “My Way or Highway”. We are now a nation of red states and blue states. It almost looks impossible to find a state that displays all three Red, White and Blue colors at the same time any more. Our politicians have totally ignored the majority of Americans in favor of a few special interests. This division is becoming deeper and deeper. Recent conflict of timing of Presidential address to the joint session of congress demonstrates that.
American History demonstrates that we have been a nation of extra ordinary resilience, and have over come major odds a lot of times. I only hope we can repeat that. Hopefully our leaders will rise above their party affiliations and think about becoming Americans again.