The onomatopoeia of choice here to commemorate the tragic events of later this morning six years ago. The Day the Earth Stood Still. The day a preventable though awful disaster occurred. The day Americans were reminded that we weren't so untouchable and immortal. The day reading a book about a fucking goat to kindergarteners was more important than immediately responding to a national crisis. Baa.
So, over half a decade later, and where are we? Osama bin Laden's still at large. Al-Qaeda's still active as ever. We marched into Iraq over four years ago now and the country's still a chaotic mess. Jesus didn't appear to personally high-five Bush like Republicans were practically expecting after Saddam Hussein's execution. And all the while, we strive to bring our troops home and end this sad farce of a "war" (When it never was a war, so much as an invasion and occupation.), General Petraeus and the Bush administration fight against that with insistences that the "surge" was successful (If you consider getting more people killed who shouldn't have been over there to die in the first place a success.) based entirely on made-up numbers. Of course, this is a president under fire for recently claiming that the only way we went wrong in Vietnam was that we left. And who just a week ago in Australia said, in his exact words, that when it comes to Iraq, "We're kicking ass." These are not the things you want to hear coming from your country's leader. From Bush, at this point, nothing about them is even remotely surprising, but that doesn't make them any less disgusting and disheartening.
While all this is going on, Bin Laden releases a new video. He isn't wrong, either, about how awful things have gotten in Iraq since we invaded, though he makes no effort to incite hatred and violence towards the US this time around. Rather, he invites us to convert to Islam as the solution to our problems in his first video released in close to three years. And now on the anniversary of the attacks, he released a new video, seeking to once again rally supporters and intimidate Americans. With his message out once more in new propaganda, he wants us scared, telling us to convert. The Republicans' response? "Be scared, and vote Republican or you won't be safe. Also, don't question the war. And Bin Laden is "virtually impotent," so don't worry about that guy. The real fight's in Iraq!" Even though these statements run counter to actual intelligence reports.
These messages are both are rotten and seeking to control people here through fear. But we shouldn't fear either of them and let them change how we live our lives. Sure, there are many things in the average americans' lives that do need changing - but voting Republican and converting to Islam are not that. This September 11th, defy both of them and do something you really enjoy, and do it with no feelings of fear. These people only have power we give them. 9/11 itself as a date has now become little more than a buzz word. Not unlike "Support the Troops," a catchphrase that doesn't really mean what it sounds like anymore. Language has become twisted in support of corrupt conservatives' political ideals. To overcome the tragedy is to move on from this fear. Question the establishment, question their motives, and live your normal life. The best way to look back on those who died is to do some extra living for them, after all, eyes to the future, unafraid of that and those which bring you joy. While you're at it, bring some happiness to someone else too, if you can. If September 11th, 2001 should have taught us anything, it's that life is short and fragile, and that we should value every moment, along with those who make those moments so unique and wonderful. (Yes, I sound like a grade-A sap here, but sappy or not, there is a point to be made and not forgotten here.) We should carry that message in our hearts, and keep vigilant, for should we be attacked again, we shouldn't allow ourselves to be manipulated once more, our rage and anger twisted and misdirected into unchecked power for a war-hungry administration.
When tragedy strikes and people perish in such large numbers, it's easy to become emotional and irrational in coping with the shock. But the worst response to violence is more violence. Violence and hatred will only breed and control us all, otherwise. This 9/11, cast off fear and live as creatures unshackled by it, at least for a day. That's as fitting a tribute as any of us can manage.