Nation must move past 9/11 attacks

Freedom New Mexico

The images are still vivid in many Americans’ minds: Planes careening into buildings; New Yorkers staring upward as people launched themselves toward certain death; families grasping photos of the missing, clinging to flimsy hopes; the numerous memorials in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

More than nine years have passed now, but the pain, the disbelief, remain with us.

We have grieved but we cannot seem to recover and move forward, past the events of 9/11. If Dec. 7 was a day that will “live in infamy,” 9/11 could always be omnipresent, if we are not careful. We should never forget those horrendous moments, but we also shouldn’t be paralyzed in our commemoration of them.

Anti-Muslim sentiment is again in the news. Our inability to face our grief and horror, and to recover, resurfaced with the controversy surrounding a proposed mosque near ground zero. Some people are enraged at the prospect of a Muslim edifice so close to what many consider hallowed ground. Americans have wept there, prayed there and cursed there. The thought of a mosque near that location has divided the nation.

Last month, a New York cab driver was stabbed, allegedly by a man who asked him if he were Muslim. The young man arrested for the assault is an honor student and volunteer for Intersections International, a group that reportedly works to promote cross-cultural understanding.

A small church pastor in Gainesville, Fla., considered burning copies of the Quran on Saturday, then changed his mind after warnings this could incite retaliation against our troops in Afghanistan or elsewhere.

We are not ready to let the anger and outrage go. Why?

To answer that question you need only recall recent history. Terrorist activity since 9/11 has fueled the fires of anger – at least 20-plus conspiracies or plots that we know about. Those that we don’t know about also contribute to an overwhelming sense of uncertainty.

It is hard to recover and move on when you are not sure what will happen next. Being able to plan and predict gives you a sense of control. We have been deprived of that.

Obviously, the nation’s collective psyche and our daily lives have been altered since 9/11. Travel will never be that happily anticipated idyll that it once was. Security has to be our first priority now.

Terrorist alerts and levels have woven their way into our daily news. Words like fatwa and jihad have become a part of everyday American life. Even cartoon depictions of Muhammed have taken on a deadly symbolism that is hard to fathom.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost us precious lives. Roadside incendiary devices and suicide bombers remind us that terrorism is always a possibility. And despite all the captures of al-Qaida operatives, we still can’t find Osama bin Laden.

That’s the situation, post-9/11. What can we do about all this? Nothing.

What we can change is how we handle the realities we face. Anger, anxiety and disillusionment are not solutions, they are symptoms.

We must remember 9/11, but push toward a stronger nation that is ready for the next challenge.

Any credible psychologist will tell you that is a necessary step that has to happen if our nation is to recover from 9/11.

And recover we must, or the terrorists will enjoy a sense of ongoing victory.