Sunday, September 23, 2001
It's been quite a tiring week, emotionally and physically. Emotionally because I've had to deal with much sadness, shock and anger in the continuing events in the US and now in the rest of the world. I really don't know why this has affected me so much.
I was watching TV within the hour the tragedy happened in New York. I watched, horrified, as a plane hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center, as the other one burned and smoked. I could not even begin to comprehend what was happening. I cried out silently in horror as I thought of all those people in those buildings and those planes. In my head, I was screaming, "Get out! Get out!" And just as I thought things couldn't get any worse, it did, as one of the towers collapsed. And then the other one collapsed as well. I sat there, not knowing really what to feel or do. It was beyond what I was capable of feeling. I thought of all the thousands of people there and they were dying, right there before my eyes. It really was just too much. Those poor people, what have they done do deserve something like this? They were just doing what they were doing every day of the year. They were just working, working to earn a living, working to support their families.
As soon as the second plane hit, I knew this was no mere accident, but an act of terrorism. Terrorism of the highest order. An act of absolute evil. What human could even consider doing something as horrible as this? The answer is none, because those who did this were not human. Whatever America decides to do to bring guilty parties to justice, then they have my full support.
As the days wore on, more horrifying, heartbreaking stories followed. Reports of cell phone calls being made by people on the plane, saying farewell to their loved ones. Stories of relatives carrying pictures of loved ones who were missing. I can't even begin to imagine what they were feeling. I wanted to have something to do, anything to help, but being from halfway around the world, there is probably very little I could do. I've made donations on line and I would give blood if I could.
I pretty much hate war myself. And I prefer not to participate in it when I can. But you know, I wish every person on the earth feels the same way I do. The problem is, that's just not possible. No matter what we do, there will always be people who want to hurt others for reasons that they strongly believe in, no matter how despicable we think it may be. If these people come knocking on my door tomorrow, I can't just let them bash my door in and massacre the people I love just because I love peace. Give me a gun and I'll blow these people's brains out. If anyone lets their loved ones die because they don't want to raise their hands against oppressors, then it's not pacifism. It's cowardice.
These people killed more than 6000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, and they hurt more than just lives. They hurt humanity as well. I'm not an American, but I'm nevertheless deeply affected by these events. Those killed were human beings. I'm a human being. So this was an attack on me as well. Whoever responsible must pay for their crimes. If nothing is done, then it is a huge multicolored invitation for them to attack again. The guilty must be punished, but then great care must be given to ensure no innocents are harmed.
Many people are concerned that America is on the warpath and would bomb the hell out of countries now and ask questions later. But people who think this mustn't be paying too much attention. At the moment I am really surprised that the American president has shown extraordinary restraint. If Americans are truly out for blood as many claim, they would have bombed Afghanistan before now. I watch with great fascination how careful they have been, letting their investigators pursue clues to their ultimate direction before doing anything else.
I have no sympathy for the Taliban. Their treatment of their women is atrocious. They do not allow women an education. If they are caught studying, they are executed. They are not allowed proper medical attention. They are not allowed to work. Offenders are carted off to their football stadium, made to kneel and shot in the head. Children are raped, while their dead mother they shot rot outside. Homosexuals are executed as well. You do not believe me? Tune in to CNN and watch "Behind the Veil", where an undercover reporter reports on the Afghanistan we never see. With hidden footage to prove it.
With people like these, how can there ever be peace?
Yes, go after the terrorists and bring them to justice. That is only right. But after all this is done, don't think that this is over and terrorism will go away just like that. The people of the world must try to determine the root of this problem, and I believe Americans must also look to themselves. For one to say that these terrorists did this just because they hate freedom and democracy, then one is just looking for an easy, acceptable, and understandable answer. That may be true, but I also believe it may be far more than that. These people hate Americans, and they have proven that they are willing to die because of this hate. The big burning question here is "WHY?"
As I continued to watch the news on CNN or BBC, I start to hear comments by many Americans in talk shows that they are "The greatest nation on earth.", "The most powerful nation on earth", "The greatest democracy on the face of the planet". Well, what are they expecting the rest of the world to feel about that? And what does that make me feel as a person? I want to support them and be with them in this, their time of great need and pain, but when they continuously prop themselves up as better than everyone else, that their country is better than every other country, well it gets really hard. I feel a bit insulted, to be honest. And I suppose a lot of other people are too.
There is a danger to haughtily consider oneself as the "greatest" or the "best". Such overconfidence leads inevitably to complacency, and complacency inevitably leads to lax security. We all know now what lax security has led to. Many commentators on CNN say they can't believe that this has happened on American soil. That they felt that this kind of thing happened only on "other" countries. Maybe this is why the terrorists were successful. Nobody believed that anyone "less great" could do it. This is something that should be considered when Americans are looking to the answer to "Why?"
I certainly hope that many of the Americans I see on TV who treat their fellowman harshly simply because they have middle eastern names and looks to stop doing it. I can't believe that one pilot of an airline actually asked one of their passengers to get off because he was Muslim. Many Islamic people are harassed, killed, beaten up and their children scorned and taunted. Such actions are unforgivable, and uncalled for. They are doing nothing else but create more victims in this tragedy that has already claimed more victims than anyone could have imagined. They are also creating something much worse, and that is planting the seeds of extremism. These people will be deeply hurt by this, and this is the kind of pain they will carry to the day they die. We don't want to see more terrorists born because of this.
That said, I also must commend the thousands of Americans who have shown extraordinary courage and spirit during this time. My heart goes out to all those firemen and policemen, who at the cost of their lives, ran back towards the buildings in the hopes of saving more people, to those people who probably saved more people by rushing the terrorists on the plane, and to those thousands of people continuing to look for survivors mindful of the danger to their own lives. My hats off to you guys. I draw superheroes for a living, but you guys...you are the real superheroes here.
Posted by Gerry Alanguilan at 9/23/2001 08:16:00 PM