(AUTHOR'S NOTE: I originally posted this entry a year ago in my old blog in Friendster. I decided to repost it here in Blogspot with a few changes in content since I still believe that greater tolerance toward diversity is what's needed now more than ever.)
Many websites on September 11 of every year have in time been converted into an eternal paean to common-man heroism and a recognition of the grief shared by people who lost loved ones during the terrorist attack. Scores of feature stories, memorials, post-9/11 anecdotes and the like are read and re-read, the people in the Internet refusing to forget that fateful September morning of six years ago.
One has to admit that the commemoration is befitting, and we, kibitzers, marvel at the strength of a grieving nation to pull together and recover. Indeed, for a nation such as the Philippines whose collective memory is short and whose understanding of history, reticent, the images of a mournful America six years after 9/11 remain moving and powerful.
But one also has to recognize that similar images from other countries have not been brought to the consciousness of the people by mainstream media. Funeral dirges had been sung and plaintive cries had been echoing in many parts of the planet prior to September 11, 2001: Many Africans had been starving and are dying of AIDS. Many Arabs had been living dangerously in war-torn Middle East, caught in the middle of terroristic strife waged by self-proclaimed defenders of freedom. Many Filipinos had been condemned to perpetual poverty, in such a way that thousands are forced to leave family and friends and sacrifice themselves -- both figuratively and literally -- in another country.
It seems very disconcerting to me that many of us woke up to the realities of terrorism only upon the collapse of the World Trade Center and that a number of people automatically equate terrorism to a specific religion, race or creed. But if terrorism is taken to mean any act that devalues human life through forced, external, destructive and usually armed interventions, then terrorism has been the feature of our age for quite some time.
Every time the sick are not assured of proper healthcare, every time children are left to die of malnutrition or beg to be educated, every time citizens have to suffer in the hands of foreign powers while defending their sovereignity, every time women have to prostitute themselves, every time a country imposes its policies under the guise of international benevolence, every time dissent is hastily defined as a destabilization plot, every time that people who desire to lead better lives are scorned in a foreign country, terrorism in its ugliest form rears its head and manifests itself to a world seemingly numbed by ethnocentrism and selfishness.
We wail for orphaned kids of New York, but no one wails for the orphaned children of Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq. We honor the fallen rescuers who came to help Americans trapped in the World Trade Center and the military sent to the Middle East, but we lambast Islamic soldiers and Muslim separatists who engage in similar armed combats, this time, against the US-led war in their own country. We find fault in Osama Bin Laden's fatalistic vision of the world, but we hail George Bush's political determinism and Machiavellian logic.
And worse, not one candle has been lit, not one bell has been tolled, not one postcard has been signed, not one Amazing Grace has been sung to remember those who died innocently while waiting for their personal redemption. This is the greatest mockery of 9/11: we remember while we forget. We affirm while we negate. We are taught to love while we are encouraged to hate.
If 9/11 has indeed been converted to the iconic symbol of how man's greed and intolerance toward others destroy lives, I dedicate this blog entry to the memory of the millions of victims of the many unremembered 9/11s.