I can still recall this day fifteen years ago. It was supposed to be just another typical day coming to an end – I was having dinner with my brother at my place, watching the evening news on television, when the programme suddenly switched to breaking news from the opposite side of the world. We were in great shock, disbelief… and terror.
I was particularly terrified of the fact that one of the civilian planes used in the attacks took off from the city I used to live in, up until only a year before. Could I have come in contact with the terrorists without knowing? Could I have been watching them quietly but surely laying out their plans right before my blind eyes? Could it have been me, as one of the passengers, had they decided to act earlier?
As much as I hate to admit, the perpetrators had succeeded in planting a huge seed of fear in me.
But they failed to do the same in my brother. By a strange twist of fate (or so I believe), he was admitted the following year to a graduate school in the same city I grew fearful of. And after graduation, he took on a job at a firm which would send him to the targeted city of the attacks at least once every year.
And through him, I have witnessed a bigger failure of terrorist attacks to root fear in the minds of the affected.
Maybe it is because they were resilient, both as individuals and as communities.
Maybe it is because they knew their efforts to re-cultivate the Ground would bear more fruits than leaving it zeroed.
Maybe it is because they chose to grow love and compassion instead.
Shortly after this day fifteen years ago, a war on terror was declared. I have seen countless military operations and economic sanctions come into effect since then and still now, but I have yet to see them get terrorists to fail as badly as they have with those affected this day fifteen years ago. I only see a wider spread of fear and ever growing number of those affected.
Maybe war against anything, not even terrorism, is what we should be producing.
Maybe fear can grow instantly, but never bears any fruit, now or in the future.
Maybe empathy and understanding are harder and slower to grow, but are far more worthwhile raising in the long run.
Today, I was a bit in shock, disbelief… and terror, as I found very little coverage in my homeland of the horrific events that occurred fifteen years ago and what have unfolded since then. I have a new fear growing in me – a fear that we are rapidly growing something that bears no fruit.
So, I would like to ask those affected fifteen years ago, if you are not too uncomfortable, to share with me how you turned away from fear and planted more fruitful seeds for a sustainable peace. Maybe you can remind us once again what we seem to be forgetting more and more as time passes…