Post 9/11: That’s all we know

“Reflecting Absence,” 9/11 Memorial. Credit: George Steinmetz

September 11, 2016 marked the 15th anniversary of the event that completely altered the modern world ⎯ at least that is what I am told. Even as I lived through this change, I have no recollection of it. At the mere age of three, my world became the “Post 9/11 World.”

This is something I discuss with my mother on a frequent basis. As she gapes in shock at the world’s horrors- I sit in a sort of numb contemplation. I tell my mother that I truly never knew a world that was any different, any less violent and harsh than the one that exists now.

I am part of a generation that was formed into beings as the world was thrust into a new political, social, and cultural reality. Thus, our experiences are aligned with the structure of a new world, not the old of world of our parents. Terrible things happen and my generation yearns to fight them but we have become used to the horrors. In a sad way, we now expect them.

I never knew what it was like to step onto an airplane departing from France without being pulled aside and searched on the basis of my seemingly suspicious appearance. I have never known a world in which ‘Islamophobia’ is not a commonly used term. I have never known an America where a constant air of suspicion does not prevail.

This year on September 11, I heard no mention of the day’s significance. I do not think that this silence was a result of insensitivity. Instead, I think that the event has simply become woven into the consciousness of America as a whole.

As the war on terrorism and other unfortunate conflicts continue in distant regions, one event easily follows another in a constant thread – spinning an interconnected web that extends out in all directions. Maybe September 11 sits in the middle of this web as the event to define the nature and meaning of all events that follow.

As the web grows larger it becomes hard to see what is in the center. There is time and distance sitting in between. Like all events, 9/11 is becoming a part of history, notably, human history. Above all, there is humanity in remembering an event and that is what we will continue to do.