• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous CounterPuncher has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

My September 11th

On September 11, 2001, I went shopping. I didn’t pull close to loved ones, I didn’t strive to understand, to educate, to do anything other than watch the twin towers burn, then get in the car and drive out to the suburbs to buy baby clothes.

I was hugely pregnant, full of expectancy. That September morning my friend and I drove in silence, listening to endless radio descriptions of the devastation. Arriving at the store we found that it was, unsurprisingly, closed. People were burning in New York, the lives of hundreds of thousands more were already numbered as the war gears in Washington churned into action, and we two pregnant woman stared into the window and could not quite understand why the store was not open for us ­ after all, this horrible tragedy was happening so far away.

I am not a shopper, never have been, and really, this tale is not about shopping. It is about knowledge and responsibility, bearing witness and being engaged with the world beyond our own doorstep. In this, it is a story about how I failed, and about how many of us fail day after day to recognize that we are part of a larger humanity. And, too often when we do recognize the injustice in the world, regularly perpetrated by the hands of our own government, we remain mute. We listen to the radio, shake our heads in disbelief and anger, and then go shopping.

Truth is, I’d been tuning out, in slow progression, for many years, as I became increasingly cynical and wrapped up in my own life. I wanted the best for my child, just like any parent. However, I failed to recognize that I not only hold responsibility for my own, but for all. I failed to see how the best for my own child has nothing to do with baby clothes, and everything to do with confronting our fears, fostering human connection, and building solidarity across fault lines of race, class, gender, nationality, religion. It has everything to do with recognizing the continuity between one’s own family and our responsibility towards the creation of a loving human family.

I view my shopping trip on September 11th as a personal failure, but I also increasingly see how the failure was not just my own, but one that lives in each of us. As long as we allow the existence of near and far, of nation-states, and borders ­ as long as we stay within our own zone of knowledge, comfort, and understanding, those fault lines will remain. Fault lines that crack and splinter, rifts that eventually rupture to tear us apart. What will it take for us to see humanity as a whole, rather than as subdivided entities, as “us” and “them,” as one or another person being wronged?

We are all wronged until we are able to collectively recognize and articulate the continuity of tragedy, which stretched long before September 11th, and lives on today in Iraq, in Niger, in the destroyed lives of New Orleans’ Ninth Ward. This continuity of tragedy is fueled by Martin Luther King’s interrelated triple evils of poverty, racism, and war, and by each of our blindness and indifference to our role in this poisonous relationship. In his Beyond Vietnam address, King spoke of the need to send a message to the world, one of longing, of hope, of solidarity, and commitment: “The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise, we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.” This is a choice that requires we do more than bring our bodies to the streets as we did on February 15, 2003, and then retreat back within our own lives, back to our own form of shopping trips for baby clothes.

Not long ago I had a dream in which I was searching for an orb, a smooth, unfractured sphere ­ for a wholeness that I, and we, have not yet achieved. As I searched, I became increasingly fearful that I wouldn’t be able to find this orb, or perhaps that if I did, I would not have the strength or courage to carry it home. For to find that orb, and hold it in our hands with awe and reverence, requires that we take action. We must bring our bodies to the streets on September 24, 2005, and then keep them there as we each strive to understand, to educate, and to express not only our outrage but also our love. The “time to break silence” is now.

ELISA SALASIN is an educator in Berkeley, California. She can be contacted at elisasalasin@gmail.com.

You can view a short film based on a previous version of this essay on her blog: Two Feet In (http://twofeetin.typepad.com/elisa/)

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 16, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
How Turkey’s Invasion of Syria Backfired on Erdogan
Chitrangada Choudhury – Aniket Aga
How Cotton Became a Headache in the Age of Climate Chaos
Jack Rasmus
US-China Mini-Trade Deal: Trump Takes the Money and Runs
Michael Welton
Communist Dictatorship in Our Midst
Robert Hunziker
Extinction Rebellion Sweeps the World
Peter A. Coclanis
Donald Trump as Artist
Chris Floyd
Byzantium Now: Time-Warping From Justinian to Trump
Steve Klinger
In For a Dime, in For a Dollar
Gary Leupp
The Maria Ramirez Story
Kim C. Domenico
It Serves Us Right To Suffer: Breaking Down Neoliberal Complacency
Kiley Blackman
Wildlife Killing Contests are Unethical
Colin Todhunter
Bayer Shareholders: Put Health and Nature First and Stop Funding This Company!
Andrés Castro
Looking Normal in Kew Gardens
October 15, 2019
Victor Grossman
The Berlin Wall, Thirty Years Later
Raouf Halaby
Kurdish Massacres: One of Britain’s Many Original Sins
Robert Fisk
Trump and Erdogan have Much in Common – and the Kurds will be the Tragic Victims of Their Idiocy
Ron Jacobs
Betrayal in the Levant
Wilma Salgado
Ecuador: Lenin Moreno’s Government Sacrifices the Poor to Satisfy the IMF
Ralph Nader
The Congress Has to Draw the Line
William A. Cohn
The Don Fought the Law…
John W. Whitehead
One Man Against the Monster: John Lennon vs. the Deep State
Lara Merling – Leo Baunach
Sovereign Debt Restructuring: Not Falling Prey to Vultures
Norman Solomon
The More Joe Biden Stumbles, the More Corporate Democrats Freak Out
Jim Britell
The Problem With Partnerships and Roundtables
Howard Lisnoff
More Incitement to Violence by Trump’s Fellow Travelers
Binoy Kampmark
University Woes: the Managerial Class Gets Uppity
Joe Emersberger
Media Smears, Political Persecution Set the Stage for Austerity and the Backlash Against It in Ecuador
Thomas Mountain
Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed Wins Nobel Peace Prize, But It Takes Two to Make Peace
Wim Laven
Citizens Must Remove Trump From Office
October 14, 2019
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
Class Struggle is Still the Issue
Mike Miller
Global Climate Strike: From Protest To Power?
Patrick Cockburn
As Turkey Prepares to Slice Through Syria, the US has Cleared a New Breeding Ground for Isis
John Feffer
Trump’s Undeclared State of Emergency
Dean Baker
The Economics and Politics of Financial Transactions Taxes and Wealth Taxes
Jonah Raskin
What Evil Empire?
Nino Pagliccia
The Apotheosis of Emperors
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A Passion for Writing
Basav Sen
The Oil Despots
Brett Wilkins
‘No Friend But the Mountains’: A History of US Betrayal of the Kurds
John Kendall Hawkins
Assange: Enema of the State
Scott Owen
Truth, Justice and Life
Thomas Knapp
“The Grid” is the Problem, Not the Solution
Rob Kall
Republicans Are Going to Remove Trump Soon
Cesar Chelala
Lebanon, Dreamland
Weekend Edition
October 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
CounterPunch in Peril?
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail