It’s incredible to think that it has been 12 years since I published my experience of what has become known as 9/11, the day the World Trade Center towers and Pentagon was attacked by terrorist in the United States.
Three weeks after the attack, I wrote of the hope we all had for our future, a united future against terrorism and violence, and the reality of life on the ground in Israel, home of daily terrorist attacks.
How far we have not come since.
As I write this today, we are debating involvement in a civil war in Syria. Iran and Afghanistan are a mess from former President Bush’s attacks and blame for 9/11, to which little or no evidence has been found to support the original “proof” that both countries demanded international attacks.
We are a couple years past the hope of the “Arab Spring,” an uprising against the corrupt leaders in Tunisia which spread to Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Syria, as well as other countries in the Middle East. The hope of that uprising and the resulting government overthrows shakes as governmental and military powers continue to control these countries, and the uprising became a civil war in Syria and elsewhere. It was a ripple of hope that will continue to weave in and out of a territory not known for peace.
Like the Arab Spring, the United States felt tremendous hope when a black President was elected. Obama’s election was a sign of change, change for the better, change for the good in all of us. The United States had come of age and finally had a non-white in power.
Re-elected again, a clear win against a ridiculous opponent, Obama is proof that such hope doesn’t mean much when there is little or no follow through or support for such an intransigent government.
Like 9-11 and the Arab Spring, it was hope. Hope dashed, but hope all the same.
How far has the world come since 9-11? Not far enough.
How far have I come since that fateful day when I stood shell-shocked before dozens of televisions in a store in Tel Aviv?
We left Israel just as Arafat was finally declared dead in Paris, weeks after he was really dead, his wife, 34 years younger than him, holding his body hostage for more money, security, and control from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Arab governments for her quiet and cooperation.
We survived the terrors and wars of the Middle East to land in Mobile, Alabama, and be greeted by one hurricane after another. We survived them all, from A through W and K wasn’t much fun, death and destruction around us.
In 2006, I brought my father to stay with us in the warm winter and he died the end of that year. A month or so later we moved in snow to Gaston, Oregon, and today, we live not many miles from there in a permanent home, a fixed residence as full-time travelers call it, in North Plains, Oregon, just 30 minutes from downtown Portland.
I joke that after surviving the human terrorism of the Middle East, mother nature terrorism on the Gulf Coast of the US, it’s nice to be in a place where the local terrorism consists of earthquakes and traffic jams, and the occasional flood.
As I look back on September 11, I see now that our lives were already broken by violence in Israel, only complicated by September 11 and its aftermath of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Hurricane Katrina and the other storms smashed our spirits but we survived.
We always survive. All of us. Humans are famous for that. In spite of terror, in spite of violence, in spite of ourselves, we survive.
I’m actually rather proud of that – and us.