I still remember where I was and what I was doing on September 11, 2001. I had just finished high school and I was in the first year of a technical program at a college. Our morning class was suddenly interrupted and everyone was told to go home. I asked a fellow classmate what was going on and all he said was “We’re at war.”
Soon enough I was back at home and was watching in disbelief at news video of the twin towers collapsing. I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing; it was surreal. It’s one thing to read about history and war in the books and it’s quite another thing to see it unfolding right before your eyes.
The attack on 9/11 was a despicable act of war and violence that resulted in the needless death of thousands of lives. This tragedy has touched all of our lives, whether through the loss of loved ones, or through the loss of liberties. The terrorists that attacked that day didn’t just take away lives and destroy property, but they also struck fear into our very hearts.
What can we do to remember the lessons learned on that fateful day, and work toward making the world a better place?
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
Despite the objections of some philosophers with too much time on their hands, I do believe that this is one of the highest standards we can live by. Treat others the way you would want to be treated. If we did this more often and more consistently, the world would be a much better place. If you treat others with kindness, respect, and sincereness, you will get it back. There is more goodwill to go around and everyone wins. Many disputes that eventually end in violence would not even start in the first place if we all treated each other a little bit better.
Be the change you want to see in the world
Sometimes, we fall so in love with the righteousness of our ideas that we want to push our ideas onto others and convince them, or perhaps even force them, to accept our ways and ideas. We see things we don’t like and want to force a change. The main problem with this is that when you act with righteousness, people often push back. They may reject your ideas on that basis alone.
Instead, why not be the change you want to see in the world? If our ideas are really that good, the message will spread and people will listen. If you want to see less violence in the world, then start using less violence in your own life. Treat others with kindness, and you will get kindness back. If you want to see more liberty, then live by the same principles. If you believe in entrepreneurship, then do your own small part, too. You may be surprised by what you can learn in the process.
Don’t let one bad apple ruin the whole bunch
Let’s face it: some people are simply assholes. If someone from a certain ethnicity, color, or race treats you badly, you might be inclined to lump them all in a basket and think badly of these people in the future. To do so is human nature, so it’s perfectly normal to think this way. However, we’re usually wrong to blame a whole group for the actions of one individual, so we’re actually hurting ourselves. If we hold on to negative emotions and hold hateful thoughts towards other people for no reason, we’re making ourselves more miserable than we need to be.
It can be hard to change perceptions, but the first step to doing so is understanding that hate and anger hurts ourselves the most, if held for the wrong reasons. Do you believe in second chances? Time seems to diminish the pain of many events, and sometimes even assholes come around.
Live well and prosper through free trade with others
The founding block of civilization is economic cooperation through the division of labour and voluntary trade with other people. We spread civilization, harmony, and peace by cooperating with other people and trading with them. We destroy civilization when instead we seek to put up barriers between people, use force to get our way, and impose our will on others. If we continue down this path, there can be no cooperation between people; when goods do not cross borders, armies will. Two societies, completely isolated from each other, can only be in physical and territorial conflict, just like animals.
We can each do our part; every time we reciprocate with others, we both benefit and the world becomes a little bit more civilized. Charity can be a great way of helping people down on their luck and giving them a helping hand, and this is as much a voluntary reciprocal relationship as free trade with other people.
Teach what you have learned
A great teacher can make such a huge difference in the world, but the truth is that we can all be teachers in our own way. I admire people like Andrew Hallam who follow the guidelines I have listed here in their personal lives and sincerely seek to help other people through the spread of good ideas.
All of the violence in this world begins with an idea. An idea drove the terrorists of 9/11 to attack and destroy countless lives and property. We can’t fight this sort of violence by smashing our fist on the table or punching a couple of the terrorists out; that doesn’t stop the ideas that result in violence in the first place. The only way we can combat the ideas that lead to violence is by spreading good ideas that lead to less violence.
Treat others how you would like to be treated, be the change you want to see in the world, be willing to forgive, live well and reciprocate, and finally, share all that you have learned with others. We are all ignorant in some way or another, and only by sharing what we have learned can we shine some light into the darkness. A good idea doesn’t cost a dime, but it can change the world.
Love, not hate, is the way
The good path is not always easy to follow, especially for someone that has been personally touched by violence or misfortune. I am not a pacifist and unfortunately, there are those that seek violence at all costs and they must be stopped. However, we should never be the source of such violence or hatred ourselves. I am not perfect and I screw up as much as anyone else, but I can honestly say that when I have stayed close to the path, my life has been better for it.
It’s easy to lapse into hateful xenophobia against others and to sacrifice the ideals of a free society at the altar of government omnipotence and security, but if we do this, then the terrorists will truly have won.
9/11 Yakezie reader
- 9/11 (DIY Investor)
- 9-11-01 Ten Years Later (Free From Broke)
- Aftermath of 9 11 — I Love America (Wealth Pilgrim)
- Remembering 9/11 (The Amateur Financier)
- Remembering 9/11 (Investor Junkie)
- Songs Inspired By 911 (Frugal Zeitgeist)
- The Man in the Red Bandanna (The Biz of Life)
- The Red Bandana – Your Last Hour (Financially Consumed)
- Weekend Love 8: Remembering 9/11 (20 and Engaged)
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So, reader, where were you on 9/11? How have these events personally affected you and your life? What do you think of how the world has changed since then? I’d love to hear your thoughts.