Empathy should extend beyond borders


by Kate Anderson

It’s time for solace, a chance for our country to set aside the trivial components of the day and remember something more important than we are. It is time to be reminded, from 9/11, what really matters in life: People.

When you give yourself the opportunity to remember the picture of the two people clenched by their hands jumping to end their lives on that morning, it’s the ultimate horrific reality proven by photography.

It makes it hard to be worried about the price of textbooks, the lack of parking on campus, or the selection of food in Pfeiffer.

This anniversary calls us to be real people who are fortunate to know life a year later, as Sept. 11 approaches.

Our country faced an element of terror that should send us running for the shadows. Our enemies must have assumed that this extremely fatal blow would weaken us. This is why a year later, those enemies who are still alive should be at an unbelievable level of shock from our nation’s reactions to the greatest terrorist attack we’ve ever confronted.

Our country has suffered a terrible loss that exceeds the number of deaths that resulted in isolated incidents like Chowkar Karez. Only 40 people were killed that day. By no means do I intend to summon the awakening of our moral conscience through that tragedy alone.

To be honest, Chowkar Karez was the first horrific and unmerited American retaliation on Afghan civilians that came to mind. There’s not enough space in this newspaper to describe every attack that has manipulated the fate of the people of Afghanistan.

To save ourselves time and allow us to regain focus on our country, let’s just quickly acknowledge that over four thousand fathers, mothers, grandmothers, grandpfathers, daughters, sons, teachers and doctors in Afghanistan have been robbed of the opportunity to live in peace because of America’s reaction.

Our fear was concentrated in a single day, and dribbles beyond in those of us who are afraid to fly or in the horrible insanity that the survivors of 9/11 are forced to sustain. But we could live in Afghanistan and experience the inconsistency and fragility of life that occurs there every day as Americans have taken an average of 40 lives per day since our “tough guy” approach was enacted on Oct. 2 of last year.

This is not an attempt to sway patriotism or neglect our home here in America, where mending is needed. This is a reminder to turn our self pity into sympathy for others that appear so unlike ourselves.

The same values that we learned in kindergarten still apply in our complicated adulthood. Think of others. What kind of solace can we bring ourselves by inflicting the pain we know so well on another set of unsuspecting citizens?

9/11 was a tragedy, but the tragedy continues as we aim to recover normalcy. How is it so easy to place such a low value on people? Do we honestly consider ourselves to be better than the people of Afghanistan simply because we drive luxury sedans while they shuffle barefoot and impoverished in fear? Are we the final judge on the value of humanity?