Destruction begets destruction

Sept. 11 had devastating consequences, not just in America, but around the world.

by Anna Kaminski - University student

Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11. According to the front page of the Star Tribune and a blur of other media sources, Sept. 11 is âÄúThe Day that Changed America.âÄù Around the country yesterday, memorials were devoted to remembering and mourning the tragedy that sparked the global turmoil of the last decade.

After two weeks of being inundated by Sept. 11 interviews, exposés, documentaries, articles and other writings, I am ready for it to be over. Even if you wanted to, you couldnâÄôt have avoided the âÄúterrorist talkâÄù and video footage of the World Trade Center crashing to the ground the past two weeks âÄî believe me, I tried.

Having returned from Iraq exactly three weeks ago makes it only too obvious to me that in the past two weeks of the Sept.11 media bonanza, something has been missing. Although Sept. 11 has been called the âÄúThe Day That Changed America,âÄù it should be more properly named âÄúThe Day That Changed The World.âÄù On this 10th Anniversary of what is by far one of the most tragic events in American history, it is time we start to recognize, reflect and remember that other countries are suffering from âÄúThe Global War on TerrorâÄù far more than we are now and probably more than we ever will.

I remember exactly where I was when I heard about the attack, as do most Americans. I was sitting in my 7th grade science classroom when a classmate came running in and told us. It is now 10 years later and here I sit, not in science class but in a Human Rights Law class, still trying to make sense of that day and the decade of war that has followed it.

I went to Iraq this summer to try to make some sense of this world, but I only ended up more confused and heartbroken over the destruction that the decade long âÄúWar on TerrorâÄù has caused. I have a deep sadness for the hatred that caused people to fly planes into buildings, but I also have the same sadness for the American bombs and policies that have created a sea of emotional and physical rubble in Iraq and across the Middle East.

Former President George W. Bush described Sept. 11 as âÄúevil,âÄù but shouldnâÄôt we clarify what evil is before we use that term? To me, evil is a belief in one thing so strongly that it causes you to forget that other people are, in fact, just like you. We canâÄôt play a blame game anymore with a concept like terrorism because the same humanistic things that are motivating âÄúterroristsâÄù are motivating people who commit acts of violence and exploitation around the globe. We are all forgetting that our targets are just like us.

Volunteering in MinneapolisâÄôs sister city, Najaf, with the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project and their sister organization, the Muslim Peacemaker Team, is by far the best decision I have made in my life. I learned more about foreign policy and experienced the greatest kindness and generosity from the Iraqi people, people just trying to make it in their country ripped apart by war.

Minneapolis has a unique opportunity through its sister city agreement with Najaf to really make a difference in Iraq and begin to reconcile and rebuild the relationship between America and Iraq, spread hope and begin addressing physical problems in Iraq, like water contamination and lack of infrastructure.

Being patriotic is more than loving freedom and the flag; it is about using appreciation for your own life to feel empathy for others and, through empathy, being brave enough to ask the hard questions. The line âÄúProud to be an American where at least I know IâÄôm freeâÄù from the song âÄúGod Bless the U.S.A.âÄù sticks in my mind today. What l learned about my own American identity in Iraq was that I feel incredibly lucky to be an American, but I donâÄôt feel proud; I only hope that someday I will.