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article imageOp-Ed: 9/11 — How one event changed my view of the world

By Chanah Rubenstein     Sep 6, 2011 in World
The day the world changed. I've heard it many times over since September 11, 2001. Being from a small Canadian town, I never thought there could be much of an affect on me from the events of that day.
What it did was open my eyes to the larger picture, to current affairs and has caused me to question people, ideas and governments.
September 2001:
I don't remember much of the morning of September 11, 2001. I was a week into grade 12 and still had 2 years of high school left to prove to universities that I had what they wanted. The teachers were good at keeping the news from us - the school wasn't abuzz with the news until the end of our lunch hour when kids who had gone home for lunch had seen the story on television.
Filing into English after lunch, there were several hurried and excited comments; among them, "Oh shit, did you see that?", "I wonder who did it?" and "Was it an accident?"
Luckily we had a modern, free-thinking teacher that year. He disregarded the teaching plan and we discussed what had happened. Half the class was confused, myself included. 'Wait, what happened?' I thought.
The teacher was detailed in his story, illustrating the event on the chalkboard, including the times and flight numbers. Almost all of us hadn't heard of the "World Trade Centers," though someone did bring up the episode of The Simpsons, where the towers were prominently featured and many then nodded with comprehension.
There was one person in the class who knew more than a lot of us. He was an American, up from Maine to play hockey.
He was always quiet and studious, but I remember him being more so on that day - perhaps it's only because he happened to sit in the middle of the classroom and eyes from all sides were watching him carefully. I remember him explaining what Camp David was to the class, and only because the teacher asked.
I never said anything during that class - most didn't. I was captivated by the story. It didn't sink in for me. It seemed too far away and I was too ignorant. For me, it was like the teacher was just telling us a story that he had gotten out of a fictional book. Everything seemed sensationalized and told with flare - it couldn't be real. I knew it was real, but so far it just seemed like a story.
Then I got home and saw the images for the first time. My mom had been glued to the television all day. I watched the news footage over and over with attentiveness. I couldn't understand it, but the images were there. I imagine I asked my mom hundreds of questions, but today I can't recall any of them.
I think about that afternoon/evening watching the news coverage, and even then the images haunted me. When our teacher relayed the information to us in class, I was horrified by the tale that people were jumping out of the buildings to escape the horrors inside, but even more than the story, the images were too much for me. Like watching you're first horror movie as a child; you can't rid your mind of those images.
I sat on the floor with my text books and binders spread out, trying to complete my homework for North American History (a little ironic I suppose), but instead I was captivated by the news. My mom said that my teacher would probably let homework go, given the circumstances, but it was the start of the school year and I was still enthusiastic and driven and didn't want to chance it.
September 2011:
September 11th has given me an interest in the media and journalism. I watch and read the news several times a day. I have seen how one event changed the world and it’s led me to question everything.
I question those who hold extreme views. I can’t trust someone who holds an ‘all or nothing’ point of view, regardless of what side they’re coming from. There are very few issues in life simple enough for such viewpoints, especially when it comes to politics and religion.
Instead of innocently believing that the government has the people’s interest in mind, I question their actions. I know that the government is run by people and by definition that makes the government flawed.
When 9/11 happened, it seemed to come from nowhere. Where did that hate come from? The war in Iraq has led me to see where it comes from. I don't sympathize, but I see.
I question ideas and actions that stem from beliefs. I didn’t, and don’t, support the Iraqi war. I question all military actions equally, but I'm not a pacifist. I believe pacifism to be a dangerous, naive and idealistic way of thinking. It's a nice thought, but it's a concept that is held by generally sane people, yet it involves insane and stubborn people. Megalomaniac and sadistic individuals will always exist; if they don't take power, they can convince people to give it to them. You can't negotiate with the likes of Hitler or Ahmadinejad.
September 11th changed the world, but it wasn't the event per se - it was our reaction to it. I'm skeptical when it comes to the fear mongering. We react with upping security, but it's a false sense of security. It does nothing; terrorism is meant to instill fear and the world is scared - and it shows. You can't stop terrorism, but you can control how you react to it.
I have a lot of questions and I question a lot about the world around me, but I don't have answers, obviously nobody does. However, I see how the world is trying hard to find the answers. For the sake of our future, I wish the world wisdom and understanding.
This article is part of Digital Journal's project to remember September 11. If you have a story to tell, join us on Facebook and Twitter, and post your memories to Digital Journal. Full details on how to participate can be found here. You can also read other submissions on our September 11 Anniversary page.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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