Remembering – But not 9/11

‘Nice tie!’, the husband greeted our colleague walking in to work today. It was a red, blue and white tie with a beautiful Bald Eagle on it.

‘Oh, that’s for September 11, at my previous company we lost six of us that day’, our colleague, a former US marine, somberly explained.

Snatches of coffee table conversations I overhear all day tell pretty much the same story – WTC, loved ones, loss, hijackings, war, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bush, Mcain – each hushed word a tragic tale in itself. And last year, there was the ‘Good Morning’ announcement, a stark reminder to all – ‘Never forget’.

Not that the Americans I see around me need reminding, I tell myself. How difficult is it to remember the one attack occuring in your homeland in so many years? As for me, an Indian and a Mumbaikar, what all do I remember? I remember 6th December and 13th March and 7th July but what about the blast that ripped through a local train at Mulund station? And the one in the BEST bus at Ghatkopar? And Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Malegaon and Akshardham? What all CAN I remember? But does that mean I should forget?

Horrific though the 9/11 tragedy was, guilty though the American government may be of excesses in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan, longdrawn and misguided though the war against terror might seem, there’s one thing I admire about the country I live in right now – there has been NO attack here, big or small, after 9/11, has there? I admire that spirit and commitment, the value it places on human life.

Some might ask if it’s only American lives that are worth protecting? But at least their government cares for and protects its own people! What about ours? How long will our Prime Minister offer empty condolences after yet another attack? For how long will our police point fingers at the all-too familiar foreign hands and shadowy Islamic groups? What steps are they taking to prevent it from happening again? And why don’t they say or do something that will truly reassure us?

Someone else might ask, how can I, an ordinary and selfish individual living and working in a foreign land to better my prospects, point fingers at my government? Do I devote my time to public service, do I have a loved one in the army, do I even pay my taxes in my country right now?

True, I don’t. But isn’t that why we have a government in the first place? To do what ordinary citizens cannot. Or we would have situations like the one shown in ‘A Wednesday‘ coming up every other day. (A must-watch Naseer movie, by the way.)

I know it is a a tough task for a populous developing country like India to follow America’s example in the fight against terrorism. We have so many other pressing problems that plague us. Farmers commiting suicide, violence perpetrated in the name of caste and religion, children dying of malnutrition…

I don’t see what can we do. So for now we live on in hope. And sometimes in fear. Do you see something I don’t?

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10 responses to “Remembering – But not 9/11

  1. I agree. That is one thing I mostly admire in this country. Value for life. Well, apart from all others that I admire about this country.
    And oh, that movie is a must-see or what ?! Loved it totally ! Specially the last paragraph that Naseer delivers, simply awesome!

  2. D, our problems are of our own making. If the value of life got lost, it was because we ourselves did not give it any value. In a country where a film star can run over a couple of people and can get acquitted while the same film star will attend court sittings for killing a black buck-the value of life will always be undermined.

  3. Yeah M, the last para ties in everything very nicely na?

    You are right Mampi. The rot starts from small things and we never realize when it becomes an attitude and starts translating into big things… sad! 😦

    And I wonder what will make them acknowledge it D? Sigh! 😦

  4. Beautiful post. I agree. I was moved by the ‘red, blue and white tie with a beautiful Bald Eagle on it’.
    Sometimes I think our politicians don’t really care, they are all busy proving how much better they would do, then the present government. Then again we have such wonderful neighbours. America is better situated.
    But worst is our security forces, I have written on other blog, how we need to phase out this present Police force and recruit (at least 33% women) and thoroughly train, a new force (should not be called POLICE) in new technology, some human rights, better fighting skills, and then pay them well. These should be our new cops.
    Do I sound like I am making excuses?

  5. re: value for American life, I think the answer is both yes and no.

    Yes, the citizens in general do care if an American citizen is killed, and the government too to a large extent. But then Bush and his highly irresponsible and misguided war in Iraq (instead of focusing on Afghanistan) shows that he (and Cheney) doesn’t really care for American lives.

    There have been two attacks in Europe since 9/11 – Madrid and London. USA is somewhat safer as it is protected on both sides by oceans, whereas European countries are land-locked and next to other countries, making it easier to travel and carry out attacks.

    It also took bin Laden 8 years after 1993 WTC bombings to plan and carry out his next attack. So the fact that America hasn’t been attacked since 9/11 needs to be seen in that context – it’s not necessarily a success of Bush policies. πŸ™‚

    As the recent blasts in Delhi show, we’re in it for the long haul.

  6. Not at all IHM – instead you sound like the only one among us having some concrete solutions. I like your ideas. But what you say about our government is unfortunately too true. And that one problem will prevent all other solutions from working out I think. 😦

    God forbid Amit – for the sake of us all, I hope you are wrong. I truly hope and pray we are able to stop this right now.

    Thanks again D! It feels nice to get good news and smile again. πŸ™‚

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