Ten years ago today, I was a journalism major at Brigham Young University. I remember walking through the library on campus, and seeing crowds of students gathered around the televisions that hung from the ceilings near the entrances. I had classes to get to, so I didn't bother stopping to see what was going on. I got to my communications law class, and the teacher got up and told us that as journalism students, we would certainly learn more by going out and watching the news coverage over whatever was going on than we would by having a discussion over privacy ethics or whatever it was we were talking about.
I went out and watched the news. Honestly, I wouldn't have been able to tell you the names of those buildings had you quizzed me the day before. I was pathetically clueless about world affairs for a broadcasting major. I didn't feel connected to what was going on. I didn't feel sad or angry. I only had one friend that I knew was in New York, but I doubted she was anywhere near the World Trade Center.
I watched the news the rest of the day and into the evening with interest, but little else. I should have reflected more. Ironically, I didn't start taking an interest in world affairs until after I got married and decided against a career in journalism.
The horrible, misguided people who carried out the attacks did change the world. It sent our country into the two longest wars in US history, the cost of which have perhaps irreparably damaged our economy. The united, patriotic fervor that embraced the nation in the days and weeks following the attacks has shifted to a bubbling resentment toward our elected officials.
I don't know what the consequences would be if we retreated from the war on terrorism. Would we feel defeated? Would we feel like we had helped the world by ridding it of some bad people?
Maybe rather than worry about the uncertain future, or dwell on the awful past of a decade ago, the best thing we can do on the anniversary of evil is to do good, and be happy in spite of those who would have you feel differently.