Why Does It Take a Tragedy?

September 8, 2002

Welcome to Wyndspirit Dreams! This coming week marks the one year anniversary of the tragedy that occurred on September 11th. Patriotic fervor has been running high all year, and my anger is just as strong as it was a year ago. About two weeks after September 11th, I wrote the essay that I am including here. It holds just as true now as it did a year ago. September 11th inspired many impassioned essays, mostly angry at the terrorists. While I was also angry at them, I was even more angry at us. I remember the brief bouts of patriotism when some conflict would touch our little corner of the world. Why do Americans only stop to think about how great our country is when there is some crisis? Did the United States suddenly become a better place after September 11th? During the following weeks, you couldnít buy an American flag for love nor money. Why werenít all of these flag-wavers proud of our great country before some nutcases crashed a couple planes into a national landmark? OK, so it was bigger than that. A very skillful group of terrorists managed to demolish one of the most famous landmarks in one of the best-loved American cities, killing a lot of people, and affecting almost every American personally in one way or another. This patriotic fervor didnít die down in a few months. It hasnít died down in a year. But, I have to wonder, once the grieving process has been gone through, how long before patriotism falls out of popularity again? How long before we go back to taking our great country for granted? It seems hard to imagine right now, but I can guarantee itís going to happen. And for that reason, I am angry, and my essay still holds true.

Why Does It Take a Tragedy?

Why does it take a tragedy to make us proud to be Americans? Why canít we always realize that we live in the greatest country in the world?

The older generation came here looking for a better life, but brags about the "old country." The younger generation also comes here looking for a better life, but expects to be communicated with in their "native" language and demands that their children be taught in their "native" language rather than learn the language of their chosen country. And almost everybody, when asked their nationality, will answer with their ancestry, rather than say American.

We choose not to exercise our right to vote, and then we complain about our elected officials. We complain about paying taxes, and then we complain about poor school systems and roads and not having enough police officers. We complain about poor wages and the high cost of living. We complain about welfare mothers and the cost of daycare. Depending on our individual beliefs, we criticize Christians, atheists, liberals, conservatives, gays, straights, the rich, and the poor. 

Why does it take a tragedy for us to realize what we have? Why do people have to die to open our eyes? To make us realize that there are people who would literally kill us for what we take for granted?

Not everything is easy for all of us in the United States. Some of us do fight for our very survival. However, even then, we know that if we work hard enough, try hard enough, we can make something of ourselves. There is always a way, because we are in America.

Sure, patriotic fervor is running high these days, but two years from now weíll be back to grumbling and taking our great country for granted. How many of us will still be flying the flags weíve purchased this past week? How many of us will even think to put our hands over our hearts when the flag passes by at the head of the Fourth of July parade next year? You want to know whatís sad? Two years from now, nobody is going to be writing impassioned essays like thisóand that is when we will really need them.

Let me know what you think!
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