Tom is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, single father, and long time resident of Oak Creek, who writes regularly about human interaction and perception as it relates to social issues, value fulfillment, and introspection. Tom encourages and challenges the reader to engage new perspectives; believing that through open and honest evaluation of all sides of a debate, conflicting parties can communicate with greater efficacy and more productive outcomes.
Eleven years ago we came together as one nation to grieve in disbelief. As a nation, we became united again; neighbor with neighbor, in empathy for each other against a common and deliberate hate.
A group of cowards attacked our freedoms only because we lived, looked and believed differently than they did.
In the modern history of the United States of America there was no greater tragedy than the terroristic acts on September 11, 2001. A fundamental extreme took advantage of our freedom from religious persecution. Pure hatred resulted in the loss of 2,977 Americans on that morning, simply because, “we weren’t like them.”
Those who planned and perpetrated those acts believed they were following the most divine messages of their religion; and nothing about the humane and otherwise civilized ways of their intended victims’ lives would matter to them.
To the rest of us, their dogma would seem nothing less than misguided, intolerant, evil and murderous.
We believed, as we should, that our Constitution did not allow the extremes of any religion to dictate our basic freedoms as, “We the People.” No one in America should ever live in fear of this. Many brave men and women had paid for those innate freedoms with their lives over the previous 225 years.
We would not stand for it.
We had a right to live here in America, free of persecution and hate. How dare someone assume we would surrender our precious freedoms to the hands of a fundamental counter-perspective?
Our beliefs were personal to each of us, and they were our Constitutional right.
An extremist view of a particular philosophy took away that innocence, and all of America felt victimized by its self righteous venom.
The rest of the world, of course, does not follow our Constitution. But as a civilized society founded on the freedom from persecution and religious oppression, we would display that greater American dignity. We would set the example of how a society free of persecution behaves. We would show the world how a civilized country treats its people, regardless of personal differences.
That’s the way the story should be written, anyway.
What would we learn from our own moment of resolve?
Sadly, we would lose sight of that unity and play into the exact hatred that sought to dismantle our freedoms on that fateful day. We would find comfort in the darkness of imposition instead of the light of acceptance.
The years that followed would see us further united, not in healing but in disgust, vengeance and even rage; first against a common hate, and then against each other; against the very fabric of our freedoms.
We would use the same psychological narcissism to persecute each other. And, it continues to grow more toxic to the very minute of this message.
The events of that morning would move us from the unity we found with each other into a divisiveness that is arguably unparalleled since the American Civil War. Somewhere in the celebration of our freedoms, we forgot how to be Americans.
We forgot the very first mention of freedom in the US Bill of Rights; the freedom from religious persecution. We hijacked our own freedom.
Over a decade, we would masquerade our own dogmatic ill-wills behind an ideology of justice-seeking "love and tolerance."
Millions of people around the world would be killed, maimed, orphaned or rendered homeless.
Millions of dreams; belonging to Americans, Iraqis, Afghans, Kurds, and so many others were lost to persecutory violence. Thousands and thousands of children killed, maimed or orphaned because of a hatred borne by nothing more than their difference in geographical circumstance.
Was our response to the loss of 2,977 Americans justified? Is our response to each other today parallel and justified?
No extremism is tolerable; whether as the protagonist or antagonist.
With the benefit of hindsight I have to believe there was another way.
When I read and reread our Constitution, I have to believe there still is.
I have to believe that those 2,977 people and the millions killed or maimed since then would gladly have their lives back in exchange for the dilution of all ideologically-based hate.
We have learned nothing from the events of September 11, 2001 if we continue to display the very same ignorance with our neighbors that those outside of our borders brought to us on that fateful day.
The same freedom that united us more than a decade ago divides us today. Hate and intolerance come in many forms; not just hijacked airplanes.
We are writing history as we speak. The difference between yesterday and tomorrow lies in our ability to start understanding today.