Standing in front of a horrific devastated fire truck I ask myself – what was it for? Killing so many people, causing so much grief, sorrow and pain. Provoking wars, making people homeless and kids orphans. For minutes, for hours, for days, forever.
The fire truck I’m standing in front of is a historical witness of what happened on September 11, 2001. Where have you been on this day, how did you notice what was going on in Manhattan? Sure you know. Everybody knows. It was not just a terrible incident with almost 3000 casualties, it was a life changing day for everybody of us. It isn’t easy to understand, neither is it clear if there is a sense in terrorism. Some people think there is a sense and their trust is deep enough that they blow up theirselves.
First question to ask is: what is the definition of terrorism? It is not easy to explain that issue in one post but it has always to do with violence. And with political issues, movements or goals. There are numerous types of terrorism like cyber-, religious-, state- or even ecological terrorism. Some terrorists target people, some try to avoid casualties. We know what they wanted to do on 9/11.
A few steps forward and I´m standing in front of a LCD-Screen. It shows people jumping in pure desperation out of broken windows and shattered sidewalls. On a table I can find different personal belongings. On a letter is written: “8 people trapped – 73rd floor – please help!” – somebody has written and thrown this piece of paper out of the window. Full of hope that somebody will find this sheet and send help. There have been millions of notes and sheets flying around. The chance of that plan to succeed was nearly zero. But you try. You want to live. You want to see your family, your friends, your children, you feel still too young to die. Some meters away, I can hear audio-sequences of people calling their beloved ones during their last minutes in life – out of the hijacked planes. Screaming – panic – despair. Are we going to live or are we going to die? The air feels frostily, empathy creates goosebumps on my skin. A touching situation. I look around. The museum is crowded. No smile nowhere. This tragedy lies more than 13 years behind us. But everybody can still feel the horror. It creeps up your chest, deep into your heart. It let you feel every beat like you would be one of the people up there in one of the burning towers, close to collapse, up there in the hijacked planes. It is hard not to feel hate for the airplane bomber.
Was there any sense, I wonder?
A popular author tries to explain such attacks. Louise Richardson. She is speaking of revenge, renown, reaction. (dt. Rache, Ruhm, Reaktion) as motivators. Looked at that way, they succeeded. They got their 3 R. They changed the world. Indeed they did. But not in a good matter. Not for the western world, not for the Muslims, for no one. Now, after all that time, the world is no better place nowhere because of that terrorist act. It´s worse for everybody. The following interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq caused a political instability, new terrorist groups are now arising at the fundament of 9/11. They more and more divide the religions, they divide Sunnis from Shiites, Islam from the rest of the world.
And what about us? Isn´t it right that we are more and more in a dilemma? Caught between privacy and security? Between openness and prudence? Terroristic acts determine more and more our daily life, they determine our way of living.
But nevertheless there is no solution in solitary fighting terrorism. To fight the war against terrorism isn´t the perfect answer. No way you can win this war with a gun. Is there a solution anyway? If yes it is made by every one of us. By citizen who are eager to integrate young people. By governments who also take care about developing 3rd and 4th world countries and not just running after their resources. By projects and studies. A good security infrastructure is of course unalterable to fight the already existing threads. But it is just one single brick out of the defensive wall.
Slowly, I go forward. On my right side, there are big paintings, hanging from the ceiling. Young school kids had created them. On one is written:
To all fire fighters of 9/11 – you do a good job. To all the police officers – you do a good job!
To all the police dogs – you do a good job too.
It made me smile. The first smile since I´ve entered that museum. A glance of hope. Created by children. Children with a certain, precious sort of innocence. They feel hope, not hate.
No one is a born terrorist. Terrorists rise out of certain circumstances. No work, no perspective, hate, mental programming – the list is long. And the list of prevention is similar. Give people work, love, give them a future, especially in their home countries. Would it be that easy, we wouldn´t have a problem. Sure, it isn´t. But we have to understand that we are victims, but we are also triggers. We are part of the problem, but we are part of the solution too. On one hand we´ve created the ground for terrorism, but on the other hand we can create a fundament for peace as well.
And as the kids get older, learning to understand what terrorism means – it will be more and more important – to teach them hope, not hate.