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Gordon's D-Zone Arcive (2006-2014)

Monday, September 11, 2006


Five years ago, I remember watching on TV the terrifying attacks on the Twin Towers and I remembered when I had visited them myself in 1994. Everyone has been shaken by the attack and the realities that these attacks open up are not just frightening but concern us all. I do not think that we often stop and think about how easily we can lose everything or deal with a crisis. But then, can we afford to stop and think too much?

There have been many reasons put forward why the September 11 attacks had to happen. Some have blamed Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, the Taliban, Islamic fundamentalism, Jihad, etc. etc.
But although the organisation of terrorism has indeed a key role to play in the recruitment of willing suicide bombers, the question is why do these people choose to become "martyrs" and for what purpose?

I think that one of the reasons is that when we create categories between what is and what is not valid, right or true we are necessarily making judgements on people and not simply concepts. Simply put, we cannot speak of "women" or "disabled people" without being entrapped into believing that "women" or "disabled people" (for instance) act in the same way.

The danger I see in current international politics is in the overuse or oversimplification of these categories or labels. Take "arabs" for instance, how many people know that Arabs are not necessarily Muslim. And if they are Arab Muslims we can find differences as varied as the Catholic Church and the Protestant church?

I feel that the other problem is that it is religious fundamentalists who make most noise and are covered by media because it, well, sells. But this is but a distortion of the far complex reality that cannot be reduced to argumentations based on 'bad' governments or 'good' governments. The point is whether the government is giving people the opportunity or the will to make their own choices, moral judgements for state assessment are only political ploys I'm afraid.

And no body mentions that when we are declaring a war on a particular country we are declaring death to children, and other members of the community that are not part of the issue. But then, it's far easy for us to speak from the comfort of our homes. The reality is that:

1. children are still dying of hunger.
2. AIDS and other diseases are still claiming lives in the majority world (ex. Africa)
3. resources are exploited by Western powers in the majority world
4. political motivation and economic gain are mutually influential

That said, I feel that the war on terrorism can only fail if there is not a sincere effort on the powers involved to look into global solutions to our problems. A good thing perhaps that emerged out of 9/11 was that we realised that we are not living in our own private worlds unaffected by what others do.

Thus, I worry when we speak of each other as people that are apparently not deserving of being called 'human' or of being given proper recognition just because we may be different. I felt it as a kid growing up with an impairment and also as an adult when in certain situations. Being labelled, put into a box, or even being judged just because my biological truth does not agree with you deem to be normal or acceptable is not only hurtful but dehumanising.

What if one day you will have to face the same reality, what then will you hate yourself because you have gone out of your standards for 'personhood'? And what does this relate to 9/11?

The relationship is simply that we must be very careful when speaking of 'terrorists' or even 'Islam' without acknowledging the context in which these realities emerge and how if we are taken out of our comfortable sofas into war torn or hunger stricken areas we would react. For if you think about it, we have a responsibility to others when we are denying those we deem 'unworthy' of living their life.

The tragedy of 9/11 is indeed a tragedy. But it would an even greater tragedy if we do not wake up to the fact that we can no longer ignore the connection there is between each one of us. And this is not simply a matter of naming and blaming.