What did we really learn from 9-11 — this second “day that will live in infamy”? Like Hurricanes Katrina and Irene or the terrible tornadoes of this summer, our society is not fully prepared for the magnitude of the losses and the recovery challenges — economic, academic, historic, personal, psychological. Maybe one can never be fully prepared.
But tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes and man-made disasters all happen. We can move towards a healing and rebuilding state, but lives have been permanently changed and there must always be resources available to help people deal with these changes.
Our technology needs to focus on outlasting the disasters, not simply the perfection of our military might. Much as we need to catch the bad guys, in our desperation for “growth,” “jobs,” and even “homeland security,” we put aside the fact that one big East Coast earthquake could put most of America’s population, its business centers, and its political centers out of business for a long time and change world history.
Yes, we do need to be vigilant and understand that some people are ruled by hate and the need to oppress and murder. But we also need to be vigilant and understand that both man-made and natural disasters require preparation and planning to do our best at enduring, healing and restoration. Disasters have indeed tested us. It is good to know that we have been humanitarians both at home and abroad when disasters strike. The foundation for positive change is there — even in the hard memories and lingering suffering of Sept. 11, 2001.
Chris Owens is a Democratic District Leader.