9/11/01. 7am. San Francisco. The phone rings. A friend from NY told me to turn on the television. After a couple of hours in front of the screen, I ended up wandering around lost somewhere downtown.
The streets were empty. America came to a sudden halt. And that did not happen very often in the past decades. In a weird way it immediately felt like one of those moments in time where things could shift either way. To my surprise, the initial shock was not followed by hatred or anger or lust for revenge. The people’s faces were filled with one question: What are we doing wrong that others hate us such much ?
A crack opened. And on our campus the excitement started rising that now might be the moment when America becomes a real superpower. One that answers wisely and comprehensively. The American people were, for a big part, ready to start a new dialogue, a dialogue that treated terrorism not like a disease from outer space, but as a brutal symptom occurring out of failing world social/political/commercial systems.
It was just a brief moment of clarity. The gunman took over and found more and more excuses to return fire with even more fire.
Looking at Europe back then, hearing all the begging, wishing and judgemental voices urging the superpower to be this wise young man…but America’s leaders did not listen, neither to Europe nor to a majority of its own people. It was hard to bear. All this unnecessary suffering for over a decade now. Because they did as they were used to doing.
Fast forward to 2015. When I hear the answers across Europe…we are making the same mistake and we going about it with even more conviction. Europe now has not only been invaded by terrorists, but also by a thinking that terrorism is a war that can be won or an enemy that can be fought. It’s like fighting against your own body, a battle where there are only losers. Its like killing cancer with chemo, killer against killer.
Since we are all in the same boat. Lets come up on deck and find the cause, not just kill the symptoms.
Every day thousands of people suffer from brutal violence and terror. Now the cracks appear in our confidence, in our beliefs and thoughts, in our Western dreamland. Let’s not be afraid of them, through those mind cracks the healing will enter.