In retrospect of the twelfth anniversary of 9/11, I must confess: I am rarely proud of being an American. In fact, I can pinpoint a couple of instances when I had any feelings whatsoever for this country of my birth: when the US men’s soccer team triumphed over Mexico 2-0 on September 10th, qualifying our team for the FIFA World Cup in 2014. That, and my most recent viewing of the movie Lincoln.
I recently shared this movie with a very good friend of mine. And yes, I cried my eyes out through much of it. The emotional outburst came to a pitch when Daniel Day-Lewis, acting as Lincoln, rode through the battlefields of Petersburg, Va. Viewing the carnage, in disbelief my friend quietly breathed the words, “their own countrymen.”
My heart broke in two. I didn’t just see the soldiers on that battlefield, the Union and Confederates embraced in death. I saw the men, women and children lying dead in the streets of Syria. I saw the bodies wrapped for burial in Egypt, Libya and Palestine. I remembered the horrors and unbelievable slaughter that took place in Bulgaria, Kosovo, Rwanda and South Africa.
Here I was, watching and remembering the deaths of the Civil War, fought on American soil nearly 150 years ago. Who will remember Syria? Who will remember the Kosovos, the Bulgarias, the Rwandas? Who will pause to grieve the dead? Who will care for their bones? And, even more than that, what will we do to put an end to this senseless violence? And the suppression and oppression of the “other” – whether it be the African Americans, the Tutsis, the Brotherhood, the National Liberation Army, the Free Syrian Army…
Because in the end, it doesn’t even matter who really wins. We will still be left with the conflict, restless beneath the surface. The ideological prison we place over entire nations and peoples, caging them, enslaving them, and making them believe they, themselves deserve it…! The continued rifts and struggles between all the countries touched by the Arab Spring, the ethnic conflicts, the racial slights and oppression on our own back door; when does it end? How can it end? Even more importantly, what can we as individual humans do to bring stop it?
My heart cries out to do something, anything. But what can I do? I’m just a white girl with an oversensitive heart. I don’t know what it’s like. I’ve never experienced it firsthand. But the maltreatment and insensitivities of my countrymen, of their own brothers and sisters, of other nations, of other cultures; it makes me sick. My heart breaks.