Twin Towers

I read in today’s Globe that a grade school teacher observed that teaching about 9/11 is like teaching about the civil war. The kids in her class didn’t experience 9/11 so for them 9/11 is history. Is it becoming history — in that negative way that Henry Ford evoked when he said “History is bunk” —   for us? Are we going to forget?

Have we already forgotten that none of   the issues related to 9/11 have been resolved? As a nation we still don’t know what hit us or why. We have fought and still fight wars without satisfaction and without settling anything. We’ve apparently learned little.

The terrorists knocked down two symbols of American financial might. Recently some of the greatest financial firms were knocked down by their own stupidity. 

I think these events are related. And unfortunately the destruction of financial institutions is out of the terrorist play book

That our financial system is structurally  unfair and leaves many people disenfranchised and without hope is difficult to refute. The American middle class and above has been living in a dream world, disconnected from the realities of life for most people around the globe. The death and destruction of 9/11 could have awakened us to that reality. But it did not. The unfair economics of greed is still our way of doing business. The cruelty of structural violence and structural prejudice that crushes millions of people every day is unfelt by most of us living comfortable lives in the States.

Paul Farmer is one American who has fought structural prejudice for all of his professional life. He does this in Haiti and right here at home. We need more Paul Farmers and fewer chicken hawks who want to send unmanned drones to kill enemies and let the collateral damage fall where it may.

We have a volunteer army that relieves most of our children of sacrifice. Is this sensible given our situation? Or is military power any kind of solution at all? The last 60 years of our history tends to teach us that it is not.  Perhaps instead of sending armies into places under distress we should be sending Doctors and agricultural and economic experts. Or volunteers like  Joyce Tannian  who learned from 9/11 that service to humankind would make her happy. She founded Water is Life Kenya and spends most of her time helping the people of Kenya live better lives by helping them have water; something both precious and scarce in Kenya. Before she decided to serve in this way, Joyce lived in Manhattan and on 9/11 learned a lesson — about what is important in life — well.

May God bless Paul and Joyce and may their numbers increase!

If our nation and people started to use  power to help the helpless in the world instead of  constantly trying to impose our will or “protect our interests around the world” — goals that reenforce structural violence against people —  we might find that we would be loved by the same people who now hate or distrust us. Sounds like a dream? I think it is our only way forward. The military solutions of the last 60 years have not produced good results. Isn’t time to try something new?

In any case let’s not forget 9/11 — not until we learn what Paul knew along and what 9/11 taught Joyce.