This morning I felt super awful because I was driving into work with dad and I realized it was September 11th and I’d totally forgotten the significance of the day.
Anyway, so we were chatting about this at work when everyone came in just how much everything was one way before the World Trade Centre attacks happened, and how now it is a completely different way.
I live in New Zealand, so obviously we have a very different account of witnessing that awful event. One which is a lot more removed, and more of a spectator than a participator, because I cannot imagine what it must have been like to see that sort of thing happen to your own country and people and buildings.
I was eleven years old, and I don’t remember much about 2001, but I remember this. My dad – who gets up a lot earlier than us – heard about it on the radio, and he phoned my mum. Mum woke me up and my brother as we got ready for school, and the whole thing had already unfolded and they were playing out the pictures and the videos over and over again.
The thing I remember most was the people in the buildings, jumping from the upper floors. I know for kids these days they may have grown up in a world where intensive security checks are the norm, and the idea of terrorists and Jihad totally obvious but before that, especially to a nine year old, they weren’t.
It was like a movie, like looking into a crazy world that you never knew could exist. After that, everything after that, the July attacks in London, or Madrid, or Mumbai or any of the others felt like aftershocks in this new world dynamic.
I guess I am reminded today that while it’s been a long time, and there are people who may not remember the world before, or whatever, we have to chose to remember the things that matter.
Things that have become the authors of the world we live in today. They help us understand context, they help us navigate our understanding, and see that while sometimes, things like ISIS, or civil unrest in towns and cities, and fights and world views and sudden occurrences may seem like a one off… they’re not.
We have to endeavor to remember the events that shaped our world. Because it is our world, and at the end of the day we are all people, sharing the same planet and this is all our story.
I met someone who was telling me how there were ‘atrocities committed on both sides’ during the First and Second World Wars. That the Allied Forces were just as bad as the Japanese and need to re-look at history. When they said that, I was super, super grumpy. Because they’d forgotten what really happened. That the Japanese Army used tactics that were so incredibly awful they were basically the same as ISIS.
I have family members who had been captured, and made to dig their own graves before being beheaded into them. Another who worked as a radio communicator on an pacific island and was eventually rounded up by Japanese along with a bunch of nuns and tortured.
This doesn’t mean we hold things against people, or never forgive, or anything. It just means that we understand our narrative, our story as humanity, and we understand that we cannot allow some things to happen again. That we understand why the world has happened the way it has happened.
We have to decide not to forget, and that comes from actually engaging with the story of human kind.