Change, What Change?

Christopher Rath

Preface added: 2004-12-06


Lest that anyone think this essay is intended as an anti-American diatribe, I thought it only fitting to comment on Canada's annual pity-party: remembrance of the so-called "Montréal Massacre".  On 1989-12-06, a 25 year old Montréal man shouted, "I hate feminists", and killed 14 women at Montréal's École Polytechnique. Each year, the anniversary of this event is becomes a national event; somehow, the tragic killing of those women is held as equal to other events of much greater significance.  I could write about this anniversary with the same sentiments as those that follow, but I won't; read the rest of the essay instead---keeping in mind that those sentiments apply equally to Canada's penchant to victimise itself.  For more background on this event, see CBC Television's archives.


Another year is quickly drawing to a close---a year which the popular press is repetitively declaring is somehow different than the one which preceded 11 September 2001; yet, I am struck not by what has changed, but by what hasn't: the human capacity for cruelty and uncaring indifference is the same as it has always been.

This September 11th (2002) I am in North Carolina on business.  It is the first anniversary of the terrorist attack on the New York City World Trade Center towers.  Last year, when the terrorists attacked, I was in Boston attending a conference.  The events were disturbing and unexpected, but today's day-long pity party is also disappointing.  Press coverage of the attacks has consistently painted the events as one of the worst days in the history of the world, a sentiment which I don't share.  Yes, it was a terrible event; but in recent years there have been many events which eclipse the events of 11 September 2001:

I am also disturbed by the inability of Americans to recognize and accept their own part in the events of September 11th.  For generations, US foreign policy has been driven by an irrational, selfish, self-interest which has caused American policy makers to turn friends into enemies at every political whim---Saddam Hussein and al-Qa'ida only being the two most current examples.  From many perspectives, what goes around comes around was a strong component behind last September's attack.

The miracle of last September is that so few people were killed: the high-jacked aircraft were not fully booked and the twin towers were surprisingly empty.  Also, the courage and heroism demonstrated by the rescue crews was a tremendous example of how caring we can be towards one another.  The tragedy of last September is that such courage and love is not normally demonstrated by the common man, and especially not demonstrated by whole nations of people.

Today's day-long pity party here in the USA is a sad reflection of how Americans have dealt with---or, not dealt with---last September's events.  Not only has America not stepped back from its self-interest-based foreign policy, they appear to have further entrenched themselves in their old political policies.  Instead of seeking revenge, they should pursue peace.  A schoolyard bully, even if he uses his might to punish those he believes are misbehaving, will never be trusted and embraced by the others in the playground: fear does not engender friendship.

I truly wish that 11 September 2001 had changed the world, but it didn't.  To express my thoughts from my Christian worldview's perspective: people are behaving in as unredeemed a manner as they always have.  The sentiment, "God bless America", seems to have also now also come to mean, "God, curse our enemies." Maybe the Quakers have it right: one's own actions are far more damaging to oneself than to others. No, I'm not advocating pacifism; but I also do not support the revenge that our frail human condition desires to lash out with.

Carolyn Arends has written, "Every day is New Year's Day." Let's embrace that idea and set out each day to leave the people and situations around us in a better state than we found them in.

©Copyright 2002–2003, Christopher & Jean Rath
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Last updated: 2015/02/14 @ 21:33:58 ( )