Today is a day of reflection; it is a day when we mourn lives lost, family and friends who were taken from us in horrible ways. Beyond that, it is a time to look at how that day changed our country and ourselves.
Our nation’s reaction to 9/11 changed the world. It carries on in our military deployment around the globe, which has ripple effects of its own. It changed the way we travel. Most importantly in my opinion, it changed the way we look at each other.
We were already a fearful country; we had racial issues and an increasingly polarized political dialogue going back to the 1994 Contract with America days. The days of compromise and cooperation had been replaced with a stark us vs them mentality. Yet, the country had been prospering for the most part and regardless of how people felt about the 2000 election, the general sense was “we can survive the W presidency”. Then four planes happened, and our perspective was forever altered.
Looking back now on 17 years of politicizing the tragedy, the lives lost since that day in wars that didn’t need to be fought, creating enemies that didn’t exist until we made them, and war profiteering at our soldiers’ and taxpayers’ expense on a scale that would have made the robber barons of the early 20th century blush, the biggest loss I believe we have yet to recover is our sense of hope and belief in the better angels of human nature.
The good news is I have begun to see the tide turn. Good people who had been content to go through life leaving the decisions to others are standing up and saying that they are going to take an active role in shaping their world.
We are seeing candidates from groups that used to be the unempowered rising to the top with the support of those who say, “enough”.
We have a new generation of participants in the process who raise the questions previous generations had been unwilling or unable to take on saying, “not on my watch”.
We have legions of people who either had dropped out or never were involved picking an issue and changing things.
And we have an opponent in leadership who casts into sharp relief what we are fighting against; a person who represents our basest instincts, our lizard brain, and the vilest caricature of what Americans are like. This man, and those that protect and enable him, are now finding the spotlight turned on them. They are having to explain and defend themselves as they haven’t had to for a long time. Given the chance to govern at every level, it is clear they have neither the vision or the will to do anything beyond appeasing their masters who linger in the shadows.
It has been said this is a crossroads in American history, when the people of this country will either allow the cynical version currently in place to continue or will instead say that we are going to return to the values we say America stands for. A country that lets the best thrive without being at the expense of the many. Where opportunity is given to all and freedom is denied to none who truly appreciate it. Where we celebrate our strengths while acknowledging there are areas for improvement and working on that.
The remaining question now that we are in the home stretch prior to the definitive election approaching in less than two months is what are you doing to make sure these goals are realized. It is not enough to simply view history as it passes by; that is allowing others to speak for you. Each of us must take stock in ourselves and dig deep to do everything possible within our means to ensure the outcome is the one we strive for. That is my ask to all of you; doorknock, phone bank, lit drop, talk to your neighbors, friends, and relatives.
Democracy is a participation sport, and every one of us are players. It’s time for all of us to get out there and make the blue wave happen. Change does not happen on its own, it needs all of us. Take the emotions and passion a day like this calls up, and put it to its best possible use; to make sure this country is everything we know it can be.