By Daniel Jamieson, USDR Senior Editor
I recall sitting in front of the television in Scotland on the day It Happened. Regular programming was disrupted and, confused as everyone was, I leaned forward. I saw the picture of the first tower, smoking, attacked. Hurt. I was taken aback. It seems like an under-reaction, but as I sat, brow furrowed, speechless, there was nowhere to go. Who do I call? What can I do? The feeling of helplessness is what united our side. An assault, a brutal, cowardly assault, divided the world. Everyone was involved. Nations capable of apocalyptic destruction had been awoken. A seeping hatred brewed in the veins of the world’s warriors. Politician, soldier and everyman, all wore bared teeth.
The United States of America, for years the patriarch of power, had been contested. Some evil had slithered into the hull, breaking all confidence. Safety was no longer guaranteed behind the planet’s tallest walls.
Sitting in a humble Scottish home, bewilderingly taking in the unfolding events, I felt small. I felt powerless, and angry, but mostly…disbelieving. There was no way – I thought to myself – that this was as radical as it seemed on my mid-afternoon television. As a 17-year old Briton I knew little of the World Trade Center. I had seen the towers, knew something of the New York City economic importance, but not enough. I should have known more.
What the attackers destroyed was a symbol of everything, and they knew that. Had they taken down the Eiffel Tower, or felled the Tower of London, we would have been dismayed. We would have bayed for revenge, clenched our fists in defense of national icons and the tyranny of being defamed. But there was something more than that. It felt as though the world was being attacked. These radicals, these terrorists, had shaken us to our core. Who had we neglected so poorly? Or was the question – is this a pure evil, something that cannot be reasoned with, something beyond politics and religion and justice? The answer is still beyond us. Some just have hatred in their hearts, and New York City knew that hatred on September 11th, 2001.
There have been greater tragedies. Our history seems peppered more by tragedy than it does success, on some days. Some days we wake up and wonder why people might act as they do, why one man cannot let another man tend his herd, farm his land, raise his children. But we aren’t like that, and never have been. People look to scriptures for the answers, but they are not there. Man is an unpredictable machine, capable of anything he chooses to create. In some circumstances, that will might lead him to destruction. In ten years, what have we learned? Safety is an illusion. Children shoot other children. Gangs wage war in districts as small as a playground. Generals siege power. Countries invade their neighbors. Maniacs rise to prominence, and their will, unfortunately for us all, is foreboding.