September 11th

In the three months plus since the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, much has been written about how the events of Sept. 11 forever altered us and the world we live in. There is no question the terrorist attacks traumatized Canadians. They brought us closer to our families; made us recognize that Canada cannot shirk its military responsibilities; forced us to look beyond the comforts of our borders; and drove home the fact that the world is, and for some time will continue to be, a dangerous place.

For some, this trauma also has lent new importance to religious beliefs. Others are questioning the wisdom of pursuing the holy grail of more material possessions. Cynical for decades about government’s ability to forge a common good, we now fully support Canadian and U.S. initiatives in the war on terrorism and, while we worry that the hostilities could escalate, we’re prepared to back a long military effort and, if necessary, see it expand into other regions of the globe.

While the details of my activities on Sept. 11 may have differed from those of other Canadians, I doubt my emotions did. Disbelief turned to despair, fear for loved ones and finally a morbid desire to know more — to make sense of a senseless act. The natural response to uncertainty is a desire for closure. Our first-blush instinct of disorientation turned to a hard, cold demand for finality, for retribution; if those who had committed this crime were punished — better yet, annihilated — then the source of our disquiet would be removed and we could return to our previous, blessed lives.

Over the past few weeks, we devoured any morsel of information we could lay our hands on, in the process learning more about the world around us than ever before. And, as we waited for war, we discovered that there was not going to be any quick and easy solution to our unease.