Why 9-11 doesn’t matter…but should

what How why

A network of men believed the nation of America, everyone: military people and its leadership, its men, women, and children, we all stood accountable, with our lives, for offending a religious group. Religion being the primary driver, if not the only driver, which inspired young men to sacrifice their lives for a twisted, spiteful good, which they felt was necessary.

But why does it matter the “Why?”, beyond knowing it was religion, if we know who did it, and who joins them? Let’s just get them.

Because: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” This text is attributed to Sun Tzu, from the Art of War.

Do we know ourselves? What do we want as the result of the war on terror? If our research finds another group always out there, scheming to attack America, do we continue to track them down, shooting a missile from an aircraft, sending a drone, and try to kill them, wherever they are? Maybe so.

And do we know them? Who are these young men and women enlisting with groups who have targeted not only America, but the free-world, the secular world, from America, to Europe, to Russia, to southeast Asia. How much do we need to know of their motivations, how much comes from their religion, and how much comes from their culture? A culture which sees American support of Israel and a history of deposing Iranian democracy or supporting military coups in Syria to conversely promote democracy. What seeds have we helped sow to be fertilized by the hate of religion?

Foreign policy is not clear cut, even if our involvement from history had not been so desperate and opportunistic. The religious schisms between Muslim groups should perhaps on their own keep us back from the fray, maybe even removing our financing and business involvement with our current allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

You can see that these are not easy questions. But wondering how our nation could be attacked without having been paying attention to what is happening outside our american day-to-day life can clearly be dangerous.

As Sun Tzu said, if we don’t know what we want, and we don’t know how the enemy thinks, then we will succumb in every battle. Because even when we kill our targets, we may have violated the sovereignty of another nation, its people, and at worst brought their civilian population into a war they didn’t want to be a party to, just as much as those Americans who were murdered on 9-11.

Remembering WHAT happened is only the start. We then need to go deeper, to the HOW, and WHY.

The goal is to know ourselves, our nation, our priorities, who we support, who we accidentally kill when we target our enemies, and most of all, to know who our enemies are.

Remembering who died and honoring them is not enough.

Let’s not honor out of context.

TED Talk Tuesday: Fear, mistaken expectations, and the war on terror

Have you ever done comparison shopping and thought you were being a smart shopper? I have. This item is 50% off but that item is 75% off. The logical thing to do is buy the one with bigger savings, right?

Not always.

Dan Gilbert is a Professor of Psychology at Harvard. He tells us why we might be making mistakes because of our tendency to compare things in the wrong context. He begins with questions like, would you pay $25 for a Big Mac? Or, would you drive across town to save a $100? But Dan moves on to more serious questions. He has consulted with the Department of Homeland Security, so he talks of the reaction of terror caused by 9-11:

“We already know, in the United States, that more people have died as a result of not taking airplanes -because they were scared – and driving on highways, than were killed on 9-11”

Is our reaction disproportional to the threat? Was it worth going to war? Was it worth Obama signing a bill yesterday that took our right to trial in an effort to protect us from terrorists? Terrorists who caused more deaths by making us avoid airplanes than their actual act of terrorism? Regardless of your answers to these questions, realize this: The people who are the most aggressive about protecting America are the ones who are the most fearful, and fear can cloud our judgment.

In the end, Dan tells us how vital our mindfulness is to our future:

“We are the only species on this planet that has held its own fate in its hands…The only thing that can destroy us and doom us, is our own decisions.”

Follow me and I will take you away from the everyday.