Wednesday, 7 September 2011

“Living with 9/11”: Stories of healing the pain

Ground Zero. Source: AP
The Guardian this week has a series of “Living with 9/11” with many stories about people who have been suffering pain and loss from the terrorist attacks on 11 September ten years ago. Since the devastation of the World Trade Centre, the world has witnessed the broader war on terror, beginning with the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The war was marked by the announcement of Osama Bin Laden’s death this year. Leaders of state considered it as a great success of the war. 

However, there have been also various attacks by terrorists, aimed at ordinary people in many countries. People are still living in fear. Even the US Former President George W. Bush said there was no sense of jubilation and there was certainly no sense of happiness when he heard about the death of Osama bin Laden. There are the questions of what people suffering pain and loss from the 9/11 attacks have been thinking and doing for ten years; and to some extent how much the war on terror is healing their pain. 

Healing pain

Although people in stories from “Living with 9/11” have their own ways to overcome pain and sorrow, they share the same view that caring and helping their families and friends is the way to heal thier broken hearts. There seems no word of “war” or “vengeance” in their stories: 

Source: The Guardian
Edie Lutnick, the charity worker whose brother died in the attacks, found that caring for others helped her to heal. She thought children need to be educated about 9/11 and about civic responsibility. 

Source: The Guardian
Adrian’s father was a firefighter and died on 9/11. When hearing the news that Bin Laden had been killed, he was upset that his friends were excited and congratulating him because he did not want to talk about it. Other families also did not feel happy about this news since it could not bring their relatives back home. Others made an effort to heal their community.

Source: The Guardian
Margaret Chin, a politician, for years has been trying to help people around the vicinity of the World Trade Centre to recover from the devastation. She also supported the proposal to build a Muslim cultural centre to bring communities together. 

Source: The Guardian
Linda Sarsour, a Muslim American, since the 9/11 attacks has become involved in community activism to protect civil rights. She believes that through hard work and campaigning she can persuade not only the Muslim but other communities to vote for her. 

Source: The Guardian
Talking about the US war on terror after the attacks, Richard Clarke, the anti-terror chief, revealed his anger at the way the aftermath of 9/11 was handled. He accused the Bush administration of seeking to use 9/11 as a false premise to invade Iraq and believed that the post-9/11 world was not shaped by the events of the day itself, but instead created by the US's reaction to it.

Those are some of the stories abridged from “Living with 9/11”. They could answer the question of whether ordinary people want revenge or peace to heal their pain. “Living with 9/11” is therefore valuable as it make it possible to think that people, no matter where they are from, even suffering heartbreak, need peace and benevolence to heal wounds. This is neither a new discovery, nor a new thought, but it seems to be often ignored.


  1. There are many ways of healing and peace is only one of those. Sometimes it's good to find the core of the problem and destroy it, so that no others have to suffer in the future. I believe that it was the reason why so many people supported the war in Afganistan. That war was right at the begining because the terrorists had to know that their crimes would receive punishment. Also, it eased the angry minds of many Americans as well as the world by promising that justice would be served. Perhaps America's mistake was that they stayed for too long.
    Bin Laden's death would, of course, bring no joy to the victims' families, not only because it could not bring their loved ones back, but a deeper reasons was that they realised there would be a new Bin Laden soon, might be even more evil.
    I'm no world leader to propose a solution for terrorism. Yet it is admitted that their actions are to attract the world's attentions. They wanted to be heard. Before 11/9 event, many American even did not know how to correctly spell the name of their country, not mentioning noticing about their poverty, civil wars and unstable politic life. Now, they are hated, but the whole world cares about how to deal with those problems so that they do not cause any more troubles. To some extents, their prays were answered.
    Peace is important, but the peace of one cannot bring peace to the others. Listening, in my opinion, is a better way of true healing.

    Anyway, thank you for this entry. It does stimulate discussion. 11/9 and the wars afterward will forever be controversial.

    Your blog is interesting :)I am creating mine. Hope that you will come by sometimes :).

  2. Thank you mate for your comment. I agree with you that peace is one of the ways of healing pain. Terrorist need to be eliminated and what I want to say is that after punishment there should be peace for people across the world. This story remind me of the My Lai massacre ( in the Vietnam war. After the photographs and videos of what the US soldiers had done with Vietnamese people, an anti-war movements began to grow, not only in the US society but in its allies. These put pressure on the US government to withdraw its troops from Vietnam.
    War and peace presents a controversial to discuss. Hope we have further view exchange.
    P/S: I couldn't find four blog. Could you give me the link? Thanks!!! :)

  3. The main difference between the US's invasion of Afganistan and the Vietnam war was that we - Vietnameses - did not attacked innoncent Americans in America. That's why the anti-war movements at that time were so strong. Now, the US has a "legitimate reason" to cover itself. They do realise that revenges will lead to further revenges, but their pride cannot allow them to stop. Besides, the concept of terrorists itself is not settled. A person may be a terrorist to one, but a hero to another. Therefore, it's vital to clarify how much punishment is enough and when should we restraint our hatred for a better outcome, or else, I'm afraid that "peace" will then be the most common word in our un-answered prays.

    Let's see whether the prediction about 2012 may come true!

    (I'm a newcomer, so my blog is still under construction. This is the link if you may have sometimes to come by: Cheers! :))