The attacks of September 11, 2001, changed us in ways we never could have ever foreseen. But did it really change us that much? Yes and no.
In the immediate aftermath, we all joined hands as a nation. We were solidly united, for an all too brief period. Democrat and Republican leaders joined hands on the steps of the Capitol in a show of unity and solidarity, in an attempt to instill hope and to encourage us as a nation to pull together, to overcome the tragedy, and to move towards justice, yes, but also healing. The eyes of the world were on us, and it seemed like almost everyone was in our corner.
It didn't last.
Some people say we lost our innocence as a nation that day. That was a lie. We as a nation lost our innocence on the day we signed the Constitution. Within that document was embedded the compromise that allowed slavery. It was a necessary compromise at the time, one that could not be avoided. We eventually abolished slavery by means of the amendment process embedded in the same constitution that allowed the institution of slavery. It took two thirds of a century and a bloody, divisive war, but we ended it. We made things right. But we were not innocent.
And then we lived for another century with the shame of Jim Crow. We ended that as well, finally. We made that right, and are still making it right. But we are not innocent.
We sat silently as Andrew Jackson, the President we now honor on the twenty dollar bill, conducted the brutal savagery against the Cherokee Indians known as the Trail of Tears. We have yet to make that right, though we have tried. We have not yet come close to healing that wound. We are not innocent.
And even today, there is the on-going brutal holocaust of abortion, with untold millions of innocent babies snuffed out in the wombs of the mothers that should nurture and protect them, a happenstance that we have allowed through some misguided notion of privacy rights and individual liberty. There are those who fight valiantly to make the wrong right.
Throughout all of these, and other wrongs, we debated and fought, and tried to make things right. And we did make things right when we could. We will always strive to make things right. That is our nature as a people, as a country. But sometimes, in trying to help, in trying to do the right thing, we still sometimes make mistakes and do the wrong thing. We are not a bad people, or an evil nation, quite the contrary. We are the greatest people, and nation, on the face of the earth, in all of history. But we are not perfect. We are not innocent.
We have tried to right all of our wrongs, to the best of our abilities, though seldom united even during those times when we agreed there must be change, we would still debate over the best way to bring about that change.
But when all is said and done, the Constitution, with its Bill of Rights, despite its original inherent flaws, is the greatest document of liberty the world has ever produced, or is likely to ever produce.
We have saved the world, at least three times over. We have a spirit that we have, instilled from our beginnings, an inherited culture that speaks to a deep rooted desire to make the world a better place, a free place, where all people can be free from tyranny, can be free to pursue their dreams, where people live and raise their families and instill in them those same values-the desire to make the world a little bit better for the next generation than it was for ourselves.
That may have all changed. A lot may have changed. But let's not delude ourselves into thinking we were ever innocent.
What we are is a hopeful people, a good people, with values and morals, and a love for liberty. At least, that's what we have been.
But we have also been a divided nation. That is the inherent nature of a constitutional republic such as ours. All too often, we have glossed over our differences. We felt we could always come to an agreement eventually. A compromise. We could always work things out, some way or another.
That's what 9/11 changed. We no longer have the capacity for working things out, for compromise. 9/11 was a wound to the heart, mind, and spirit, and the wound is still raw and sore.
Instead of uniting us, 9/11 has if anything heightened our divisions. Now we notice them more and more, on matters that at one time we would have deemed unimportant, inconsequential. Now we see, maybe they weren't so simple, or minor, after all.
More and more now, Americans have started to solidify their differences.
The left now sees they aren't going to be able to gradually phase in their socialistic visions for the future of America. Where once the resistance was small though sturdy, that resistance has over the course of the last decade grown larger, stronger, and much more intense. The left has responded by becoming ever more agitated, ever more determined, ever more abusive in its hateful rhetoric.
The right now sees they can not compromise with those who want to change the nature of their country. And so they too have become ever more determined, ever more strident in their opposition to the left's manipulations and provocations.
The ruling elites, for their part, have gradually started to realize they can not take the gullibility of the American people for granted. It's no longer good enough to talk the talk. The minute they are honored with an elective office, they are expected to walk the walk. Some have adapted with more or less varying degrees of grace and sincerity, in the face of constant derision and berating, sometimes downright hostility, not from followers of the opposition party so much as from their own constituencies. They know the people are sick of the status quo, and when they see fresh faces from main street mingling with the good old boys (and girls) from the Ivy League and legal profession, they know they are in the midst of a sea change that could easily wash them away like yesterday's tide.
And the media, which once leisurely supported the ruling class by fiat, all the while pretending to be objective and non-partisan, while in reality being anything but that, is now faced with the dilemma of their own growing irrelevancy.
Even our gods and goddesses of the entertainment world are feeling the pressure, the glaring light and withering heat of derision, as more and more of them start to wonder why films that once would have been box office hits are avoided in droves.
It is a brave now world of anger, outrage, and despair. Yet, it is also a world of hope for the future. And it is up to all of us as to which one will eventually prevail. Do we have the patience, the intestinal fortitude, to see it through to the end? Or will we eventually give up hope, return to the status quo? The elites hope we eventually do just that. I hope we do not.
That, my friends, is the true legacy of 9/11.
Ironically, it might well prove to be the best damn thing that ever happened to us.
But one thing we can never do is sit on the sidelines and hope for the best.
Those days are gone forever.