Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I Can't Ignore It...

Today, wherever I go on the net, visiting blogs, there are comments about the events of September 11. I didn't know whether to post on the topic, to post on something else, or simply to ignore my blog for today. But in the end I decided it wouldn't be honest to try and ignore it.

I have a different perspective on the events than most of the blogs I visit, whose authors are for the most part, American. It was of course a terrible tragedy. But some of the overblown rhetoric at best irritates me slightly - at worst, I find it dangerously misguided. For instance "the day the world changed".

If I was to lose say, a close family member in a violent unprovoked attack before my eyes, I would be devastated. It would certainly be the day that the world changed for me. If it happened to my neighbour, I would share her grief as best as I could, and understand that it was the day the world changed for her. But the words would be qualified - "the day the world changed for me" "for her".

I don't see that in the reporting of 9/11. The day the world changed? Not surely for a Rwandan who has endured years of genocide. Not for those who have lived through years of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. Not for Jews who lived through the holocaust. Not for Londoners who endured the blitz, or those who lost family members when the American Airlines flight was blown up by terrorists over Lockerbie, or many others. There were always terrible things done in the world. And good things, too. There still are.

At the time of 9/11 an American friend asked with bewilderment "why do they hate us?" I don't hate Americans. I just see a powerful nation with a dangerously insular outlook. when you are small, like New Zealand, it's more important to try and understand the rest of the world - not just the US. I do at times feel this overwhelming urge to remind Americans that they are not the whole world. They are not even the whole internet, although it seems as if many make this assumption at times.

I'm sorry if my post offends anyone. I hope you'll look at my photos from yesterday - I felt that Americans would like to see this memorial from a far corner of the world.


Carrie said...

I loved this post so much that I read it to my boyfriend. You are correct. Almost too correct. We are narrow minded. We don't know any other way to be until someone points it out to us.

Since I have started blogging, I have learned so much from people that are not American. I love it when they point it out. It makes us realize how out of touch we are.

Thank you for this post.

paris parfait said...

Not all Americans are insular and naive. It's true that many do not travel or pay much attention to the news. Certainly, Bush and Co. do not speak for the majority of Americans. And I think the world may not have changed for everyone on September 11, but the dynamic of the world has certainly shifted since - due in large part to terrible decisions of the American administration and political fallout from those actions. Anyway, I wrote a tanka poem expressing this American's views about it all - "No words adequate."

OldLady Of The Hills said...

I am an American and I am not offended at all by this post. I think all of your points are well taken...everyone of them. I think sometimes people write things in a dramatic manner, not realizing that 'the world' is much greater than THEIR is stupid and thoughtless as well as uniniformed really, which is truly sad, you know? Many people---more than one would think, have not been effected by the things you mentioned...Rwanda, The Holacaust, The Blitz, etc....and in fact don't consider them as being anything because these things did not touch their lives...I find this more than sad in so very many ways...and one wonders where their true humanity lies, you know?
There is no question that 9/11 was a horrific terrible thing---the survivors will never get over what happened to their loved ones and in turn, to them...and this is true for every terrible thing that has happened like this. Lockerbee...a man that I knew very very well---his son was on that plane...well, his world certainly changed that day, and in fact,he never ever recovered from that loss...but it is as you said...each person who lost someone or many someone's in any of these terrible tragedy's---their world changed....Sometimes Americans think that everything revolces around just ourt country, and nothing else. I think it's one of the reasons we are in such trouble right now...

I'm going to stop because I can see this will trun into a BOOK!

Thank you for indulging me here, and for your very thoughtful post.

Carola said...

Wow... i've never been able to think of the right way to say what you just said in a way you just said it so that no one would become offended...

But i too, feel very much the same way. And i think i feel a bit more - not annoyed - but perhaps frustrated when every year since its happened there's been the whole lead up to the day, the day, the news reports, the specials on tv, the radio... etc. And then to have it made into a movie for me is just not the right thing to do.

I truely feel for everyone who lost their lives, for everyone who was there and experienced it on hand and at such an emotional level. I am also saddened that it happened, to anyone that it happened to, no matter where it was, i would still feel the same sadness. But to make a movie - that old saying 'It only happens in America' pops straight into my head.

Im sorry to everyone who lost someone. But to us in the rest of the world and to me in Australia, when we can see problems that have been going on for decades, i think theres just a bit too much hoo-har.

So i just want to say - you did a great job saying that compassionately and still to the point. I think my lil bit above was probably a bit harsh... sorry ya'll!!

utenzi said...

I quite agree with you, Catherine which is why I avoided posting on 9/11. It was a terrible thing but certainly not world changing. Actually, other than being a little bigger in scale, it was business as usual in the terrorism world.

Shephard said...

I agree with you 100%.
As an American, I can say it's pretty common for our sheltered population to project their pain on the world. I'm certain you're not alone in your logical and accurate perspective. Anyone experiencing tragedy is quite understandably prone to self-absorbed hyperbole. I honestly don't think the Americans doing this mean any harm by it. It's unintentional arrogance.

Visiting from Michele's. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Catherine,

I tried to post here last week, but found my move to blogger-beta would not allow it, so here I am trying a work around.

Sept 11 has other meanings than the one ascribed to it by the American media, as my childhood included the Sept 11 coup in Santiago, Chile in the 70's. I have never lost the memory of the day my world tilted, and I tend to observe the anniversary of that senseless loss of that day and the days that followed.

While I understand the pain and loss the Americans are feeling, to say that their tragedy was the day the world changed is,as you rightly suggested, a very insular outlook.

Anonymous said...

Catherine you've put it so well - and I have read similar expressions on other blogs too, so I think it's important America puts it all into context.
That's interesting to read in a comment above that Sept 11th is a date those in Santiago remember for a different reason ... makes you realise even more that the world is full of pain and tragedy and that we who want peace all need to hold hands a little harder.