Yahoo! is asking Americans how September 11 changed them. Below is an account from a reader.
Since the morning of September 11, 2001, the world as I perceive it has changed. There are certain things I no longer take for granted and things I do differently. I was a fairly idealistic youngish European-American who had previously viewed these types of terrorism from much farther away. For the first time since Pearl Harbor an enemy of the American way of life had made a massive attack on American soil. I must digress by saying I am fundamentally a liberal-minded not egocentric European-American. I enjoy the t-shirts depicting Native Americans with the slogan "fighting terrorism since 1492;" having Scandinavian roots, I might quibble a bit about the year their battle with terrorists commenced, but I digress.
[Your story: How has September 11 changed you?]
I awoke late that morning as I was a bit sick, turned on KCRA Channel 3 in Sacramento and the Today Show with Katie Couric was on. Her tone let me know immediately that something was 'rotten in Denmark' so to speak. After all the activities of this fateful day had subsided there were numerous changes made and/or implemented/modified. I was at the time a practicing lawyer so the more notable change I discerned over the months subsequent to the attacks was the shrinking (continuance of same) of certain civil liberties in the guise of patriotism. I refer of course obliquely to the Patriot Act of 2001. I am not suggesting we hamstring law enforcement in America, I just watched as numerous safeguards in the Bill of Rights became further eroded in typical Washington knee-jerkism.
I am not writing to stir the pot so I will step away from my soapbox for the moment and focus on those ways that the 9/11 attacks and their fallout have changed me as the editors would prefer. Most notable of my hobbies is running, at that time I was in Marathon conditioning. 9/11 has contributed a number of memorial runs. In 2002 I ran on September 11th in Sacramento along the American River a 5K (3.1 miles) race organized by a local running club then known as CROS (Christian Runners of Sacramento). The gun command that evening was "let's roll." The leader of the resistance on flight 93 that crashed in the countryside near Shanksville, PA used those words to trigger their counterattack of the terrorists onboard their aircraft. In 2011 the PAUSATF cross country race in Golden Gate Park (first not our championship) will be moved from Saturday to Sunday presumably to commemorate this National tragedy. I am one who is easily motivated and these tribute runs fill my soul with a mixture of remorse, humility and pride in the native strength of the American spirit. The American spirit can be viewed as either national pride in the USA or native pride of the many indigenous peoples who have been fighting terrorism since 1492 in this context.
A more significant way that 9/11 changed me and specific modification of the way I travel is the most notable. Since 9/11 I have flown less often than I have traveled via trains or automobiles. This is behavior modification. At first I merely adapted to TSA and the more time intensive screening of airplane consumers. After a time I began to revisit other options. In doing so I have become a train enthusiast. On three occasions I substituted train for airline for a trip from California to Chicago or reverse. Additionally, I've traveled roundtrip via rail from Sacramento to San Diego versus flying as was my custom prior to 9/11. Finally I've driven from Ft. Worth to Stockton when more customarily people would elect to fly this trip. A word on these decisions, I am perhaps more patient than others whom I consider my peers. I do not reflect on the time required to travel Sacramento to Chicago via rail, I prefer to enjoy the beautiful scenery on this trip as the daytime hours are spent in the Sierra Nevada then the Rocky Mountains on successive days eastbound. The rail trip is scheduled to effect the reverse on the westbound (first the Rockies). Secondly, I believe I enjoy the slower pace and opportunity to reflect on life. It is however something I've done at least in part due to the modifications of air travel post 9/11.
Finally, there is a social component to how my life has changed. Ironically, I have become more open minded towards that segment of world society to which we 'profile' as sources of terrorism. What I mean by this is first we tend to think of Muslim culture and Muslim majority states internationally as sources of terrorism. The possessive plural refers to Americans and specifically the United States of America as opposed to those members of Sovereign Nations who are also present here and preceded all of the international melting pot which constitutes America today. I have been attempting, to some degree of success, spiritual growth in the intervening ten years. In doing so as a Christian I try to live the life expected of one who holds himself out to the world as 'Christian.' However, I also am fairly well educated and open-minded and inquisitive of other religious philosophies. During the months and years immediately post 9/11 I worked with an Indian woman in the law firm who superficially introduced me to some Sikh customs.
More currently I have found myself working with numerous Indian and Muslim persons as the field (Information Communication Technology) I now work is dominated by these peoples. It is through a combination of religious study into other religions and meeting these people who are actual practicing Hindu and Muslim that I've had an opportunity to meet people outside of my religion and not be forced to rely on the written word of another or worse yet someone else's opinion on the matter. What I've learned is that many of the Muslim or Hindus I've met are people having grown up in other parts of the world where the majority religion is not Christianity. Mostly these people are similar in terms of their values. They have similar goals to live happily with a reasonable income and to have a safe place to live and raise a family. In meeting such a variety of peoples from these cultures I can conclude that which I sometimes have seen others conclude; and that is that the driving force behind the terrorism that was brought home so personally to Americans on September 11, 2001, are extremists and not necessarily a fair reflection of the cultures they represent. I understand that these words may not be popular with many biased people in America, but as for me and my house I find myself more not less receptive toward the people of these cultures. It is my hope that one day we can live together despite our differences and stop the constantly escalating violence in modern society, one can always hope!