“New York, New York”

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It’s that time of year again.  Fifteen years later, and I still cannot wrap my head around what happened.  I’ll never be able to.  I’ll never understand why anyone would hate so much that they would kill themselves just to try to destroy the thing they hate.  I’ve been angry; I’ve even hated some people and ideals.  But I will never comprehend that level of pure, unadulterated hate.

I do not believe politics and religion should have anything to do with each other (and neither did America’s Founding Fathers), but this op-ed from the Los Angeles Times today tries to clarify why many Muslims do.  There is no separation between civic law and religious law for them.  That’s cool.  That’s why Muslim countries are what they are.  But it doesn’t explain why some zealots decided to impose their version of Islam on everyone else, why the destruction of everything they did not agree with became their sole cause.  Blaming every other Muslim for these lunatics is not the way to end terrorism.  That is just more hatred I do not understand.

On this day fifteen years ago, the United States was ushered into a world that most other nations had been living in for decades.  It is a world of fear and worry and, yes, hatred.  It is poisonous, and you only have to look at the current election cycle to see what it has done to us.  I am ashamed of all the people who think the Republican candidate is right.  They are giving in to their anger and hatred.  They are letting their fear win over any possibility of hope or peace.  They are the most un-American Americans I have ever seen.

It’s hard to remember the world before 9/11.  It’s hard to remember a time when a football player’s peaceful protest became headline news (seriously, there are WAY more important things going on).   It’s difficult to visualize a world where we weren’t looking for bombs in every forgotten bag and backpack.  It’s hard to picture the New York skyline without that huge scar of blank space on it.  (Yes, they’ve built a new tower, but it just isn’t the same; it never will be again.)  That’s partly why I chose Ryan Adams’ “New York, New York” as my song this year.  It was filmed right before the attacks, and you can see the World Trade Center towers standing tall and proud.

But there’s another, more important reason I chose this particular song.  It’s one of two that thoroughly embodies my emotions surrounding 9/11–the other is Bruce Springsteen’s elegiac “My City of Ruins”.  A huge part of my love for this song is tied up in its connection to this life-changing event.  But unlike the Springsteen song, it is not filled with sadness, it is not mourning what is gone.  It is full of optimism and joy and life.  Adams wrote the song long before 9/11; it has absolutely no thematic connection with what happened.  The video was filmed before the attacks; the only reason a disclaimer had to be added was because it was obviously released after everything was irrevocably damaged.  “New York, New York” is a love song–although whether it is for a person or the place is both unclear and irrelevant.  Yes, the singer had his heart broken, but he isn’t going to let that stop him.  He isn’t wallowing in his grief and pain.  He declares “hell, I still love you New York.”

“Love won’t play any games with you any more if you don’t want ’em to.”  Love does not lie.  It can be a little misguided, and it can hurt sometimes.  But it is the only truth any person will ever need in this, or any other, lifetime.  Love builds space inside your heart for the whole universe.  Love lets you see the world from all other perspectives.  You might get angry sometimes.  You are definitely going to be sad and scared.  But love will always shine a light that leads you out of the darkness.

So I wish for the same thing I wish for every year on this day: that we all just love each other.  Don’t give in to hate and fear.  Don’t build any walls.  Don’t stop people from coming to this country.  Don’t ban ideas.  Stop bombing people.  Stop shooting people.  Just stop.  Listen to what the other side says.  Learn about their culture and religion, and teach them about yours.  Prove that you are not trying to destroy them.  Prove that you really believe in the Enlightenment ideals this country was founded on.  If we handed out food and books and medicine more often, maybe the kind of hatred that flourishes in some places would just die out.  Because nothing kills hatred like love.

I’ll always love you New York.  I’ll always love the whole world, no exceptions.

 

9/11 Repost: “Give ‘Em Hope”

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“I know that you cannot live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living. And you…And you…And you…Gotta give em hope.”
― Harvey Milk, The Harvey Milk Interviews: In His Own Words (link)

The definition of terror is an intense fear. The suffix -ist is added to words to denote someone who specializes in something; the suffix -ism is used to denote the state or quality of something. Working from those definitions, a terrorist is someone who specializes in creating an intense fear. Terrorism is the state of being in intense fear. That’s what happened thirteen years ago today in the United States. We were placed in a state of intense fear, and I’m not sure we have ever escaped.

So many people around the world are living in a state of intense fear right now. People are afraid. Many of them have good reason to be afraid. There are lunatics with guns and other weaponry invading their homes and dropping bombs on them. Syria, Gaza, Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan. I’m not sure there’s a single country that hasn’t been somehow touched by terrorism. By comparison, we’ve gotten off easy.

Don’t get me wrong. We’re not entirely safe, and quite frankly, our foreign policy since 9/11 hasn’t really made us any safer. The way our airlines and other transportation have handled security has not created more secure travel. All any of what we have done the last thirteen years has accomplished is to create more fear, for ourselves and so many others.

And I don’t diminish the damage that’s already been done. The amount of damage and suffering that’s been caused by the 9/11 attacks has been way more than enough. I still, to this day, cannot fully wrap my head around what happened. I feel so very lost and afraid when I think about all those people killed, the skyline of New York scarred forever. I know it could happen again anywhere at any minute. The point of terrorism is that nobody knows when or how terrorists will strike. The terrorists do this precisely so they can create that intense, crippling fear. They want everyone to be so afraid that they stop doing whatever it is the terrorists hate so much. Because none of this is about legitimate protest or revolution. It’s about hate. And fear. It’s about creating a world where the only point of view that matters is that of the lunatic with the guns.

You’ll probably recognize the state of intense fear in more than just 9/11 or ISIS attacks. You can probably see it in all the school shootings. It’s there in rioting and police shootings. It exists anywhere it’s illegal to even speak about homosexuality. Terrorism comes in many forms; it wears many faces. It lives in every racial slur, or misogynist insult. Not all terrorists are Muslim, and not all of them come from foreign countries. There are terrorists right in our own backyards, in our malls, in our office buildings. Every place where someone lives in intense fear, there is terrorism.

And the only way to fight fear is to stop being afraid. It’s not going to be simple, or easy; there are a lot of complicated problems that need real solutions. But each and every person on this planet can do something to stop terrorism. All they have to do is replace their own fear with hope.

Addendum:  I still feel this way.  This is not the final solution to the problems the world faces, but it is the best first step we can take.  Like the Beatles said all those years ago, “All you need is love.”  It isn’t the practical cure to practical problems, but if we can approach our problems from a place of hope and love, then we can find the solutions.

“Give ‘Em Hope”

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“I know that you cannot live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living. And you…And you…And you…Gotta give em hope.”
― Harvey Milk, The Harvey Milk Interviews: In His Own Words (link)

 

The definition of terror is an intense fear.  The suffix -ist is added to words to denote someone who specializes in something; the suffix -ism is used to denote the state or quality of something.  Working from those definitions, a terrorist is someone who specializes in creating an intense fear.  Terrorism is the state of being in intense fear.  That’s what happened thirteen years ago today in the United States.  We were placed in a state of intense fear, and I’m not sure we have ever escaped.

So many people around the world are living in a state of intense fear right now.  People are afraid.  Many of them have good reason to be afraid.  There are lunatics with guns and other weaponry invading their homes and dropping bombs on them.  Syria, Gaza, Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan.  I’m not sure there’s a single country that hasn’t been somehow touched by terrorism.  By comparison, we’ve gotten off easy.

Don’t get me wrong.  We’re not entirely safe, and quite frankly, our foreign policy since 9/11 hasn’t really made us any safer.  The way our airlines and other transportation have handled security has not created more secure travel.  All any of what we have done the last thirteen years has accomplished is to create more fear, for ourselves and so many others.

And I don’t diminish the damage that’s already been done.  The amount of damage and suffering that’s been caused by the 9/11 attacks has been way more than enough.  I still, to this day, cannot fully wrap my head around what happened.  I feel so very lost and afraid when I think about all those people killed, the skyline of New York scarred forever.  I know it could happen again anywhere at any minute.  The point of terrorism is that nobody knows when or how terrorists will strike.  The terrorists do this precisely so they can create that intense, crippling fear.  They want everyone to be so afraid that they stop doing whatever it is the terrorists hate so much.  Because none of this is about legitimate protest or revolution.  It’s about hate.  And fear.  It’s about creating a world where the only point of view that matters is that of the lunatic with the guns.

You’ll probably recognize the state of intense fear in more than just 9/11 or ISIS attacks.  You can probably see it in all the school shootings.  It’s there in rioting and police shootings.  It exists anywhere it’s illegal to even speak about homosexuality.  Terrorism comes in many forms; it wears many faces.  It lives in every racial slur, or misogynist insult.  Not all terrorists are Muslim, and not all of them come from foreign countries.  There are terrorists right in our own backyards, in our malls, in our office buildings.  Every place where someone lives in intense fear, there is terrorism.

And the only way to fight fear is to stop being afraid.  It’s not going to be simple, or easy; there are a lot of complicated problems that need real solutions.  But each and every person on this planet can do something to stop terrorism.  All they have to do is replace their own fear with hope.

The Rising

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I didn’t do several days worth of posts commemorating Sept. 11th like I did last year (view them over here, starting with Ryan Adams’ “New York, New York”), but I want to commemorate one of the saddest and weirdest days I can ever remember.

I don’t usually post links to full-length albums or videos, mostly because I want to encourage people to honor the artists that created them and spend the bucks on it.  But I’m pretty sure that Bruce Springsteen would be okay with free listening of this album.  It is The Rising, his own commemoration of what happened on September 11th, 2001 and its aftermath.  It still makes me cry.