As the 15-year anniversary of the attacks of 9/11 passes, there is another important anniversary worth noting...that of our brief moment of national unity.
On September 12th, 2001 our country was united in such a rare & wonderful way that when contrasted to the political climate of today, it barely seems possible. Perhaps the best way to honor those who died on 9/11 is to look past the day itself and remind ourselves how we felt towards one another on September 12th, 2001.
In the days & weeks following 9/11, most Americans would have gone out of their way to help someone in need. Why? Because that person needed help and that was enough. On September 12th, we were all Americans united; we were brothers and sisters – a family – and you look out for family in spite of disagreements or differences of opinion.
Sadly, this moment passed quickly; squandered largely by those with a political and economic agenda that has now cast our union asunder in ways not seen in decades…in some ways not seen since the dawn of the Civil War. Now, fifteen years after our moment of national unity, we can barely talk to one another; political disagreements have become tantamount to treason and compromise a dirty word.
If we are to fix the problems which plague us and remain the exceptional country we have always been, we must learn to trust one another again. Those who disagree with us politically are not our enemy and treating them as such only benefits those who care nothing for preserving the American Dream.
Most of us understand that the opportunity America offers is what has always set us apart. For many Americans it was not only love of America, but our shared belief in the American Dream, which united us after 9/11 and which can unite us again if we would allow it.
It is a fact that no person would get involved in the political process and argue as passionately as many do – whether they be a Trump supporter, a Hillary backer or are still feeling the Bern - were they not patriotic. If people did not love America and hope for its success, they’d simply stay home and keep their opinions to themselves.
The problem with seeing political foes as enemies is that it is very difficult to compromise with an enemy; especially one to whom you ascribe evil intentions. You can compromise with someone whose motives you don’t question; even if you otherwise completely disagree with their opinions.
Most Americans recognize that we all basically want the same things – good jobs, good schools, and the chance to create a good life for ourselves and our family. We simply need to remind ourselves that while there are differences in opinions, no one wants to see the country fail. Political opponents are not enemies; we are two sides of the same coin…Americans above all else.
On September 12th, 2001 that would have seemed self-evident.
On September 12th, 2016 it is a much-needed reminder.