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can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” These immortal words spoken by Martin Luther King, Jr. seem to resurface with every tragedy and act of hatred that our country faces. Not only do they speak of the battles we all face—darkness versus light and hate versus love—but they also boldly claim the truth in how one wins over the other. The infamous attacks that took place September 11th, 2001 mark an act of hatred against our country that we will never forget. Displayed in the former President George W. Bush’s memorable speeches after the attacks, Americans came together in love, grieving with one another and also helping each other in moving forward, aiming to seek justice and defend our way of life. Our country was once again awakened to the reality that evil is real and we cannot idly wait for it to happen, but consistently stand up for what we know is right and fight for the good. Along with the many emotions that swept across our nation the morning of September 11th, the majority of Americans wanted answers. The reason for this attack, the cause, the people behind it—so many questions lingered within the hearts of those who were affected in every shape and form. In George W. Bush’s Address to Congress, those questions were answered as he broadly claimed, “Enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our country” (Bush 2001). Bush identified these terrorists as an organization known as Al Qaeda and further
explained their mission and goals. “Al Qaeda is to terror what the mafia is to crime. But its goal is not making money; its goal is remaking the world—and imposing its radical beliefs on people everywhere” (Bush 2001). A group like this would not settle for one attack and walk away. Learning more about the intentions of these people made us realized that we are not always as safe as we would like to believe. As Bush continued to explain, “The terrorists' directive commands them to kill Christians and Jews, to kill all Americans, and make no distinctions among military and civilians, including women and children” (Bush 2001). Living our normal everyday lives does not keep us exempt from falling victim to attacks like these. We cannot dismiss an attack like this as a fluke or something that would never happen again. “These terrorists kill not merely to end lives, but to disrupt and end a way of life” (Bush 2001). The intentions of these attackers would go far beyond the impact of that day and all eyes fell on our nation for a response. As Americans, we pride ourselves on our resistance of defeat. Through a morning of confusion, grief, and fear, our country came together to defend our land and seek justice. As Bush stated, “Tonight we are a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. Our grief has turned to anger, and anger to resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done” (Bush 2001). Seeking justice not only to avenge those who were lost that day, but also to defend and continue our way of life, proves to be an obligation of our country as a whole. “But the only way to defeat terrorism as a threat to our way of life is to stop it, eliminate it, and destroy it where it grows” (Bush 2001). Bush touched on efforts that would need to be taken, including “dramatic strikes” and “covert operations” all throughout a “lengthy campaign” (Bush 2001). He did not shy away from the fact that this would not be a quick and easy solution. Continually encouraging determination,
perseverance, and a long pursuit, Bush makes it clear that this was a long road ahead. The fact remains that the evil we were faced with that day is an evil that would not just fade away. As Bush so plainly stated in his State of the Union Address, “Evil is real, and it must be opposed” (Bush 2002). As much as we would all like to believe in the good of everyone, we cannot ignore the fact that there is an evil in this world. This evil does not sit back and wait to be provoked, but it strikes with a vengeance and leaves devastation. As Bush spoke of the many Americans affected by September 11th and the months after, he commented on the “sorrow and pain that will never completely go away” (Bush 2002). But our country has always been one to not let that evil linger. We surround each other in love and support, in hope and freedom, seeking good in the face of evil. We trust in a better future, one of peace and prosperity, and we know we will only get there taking it one day at a time. Our foundation as a country is one that is like no other. In pursuit of freedom, liberty, and happiness for all, we seek to be united despite all the ways we are different and all that tends to separate others. In light of the September 11th attacks, Bush claims, “We were reminded that we are citizens, with obligations to each other, to our country, and to history” (Bush 2002). Unlike any other nation, we are founded on these principles under a God of freedom and of love. Because of the God in which we place our trust, we know what is right and what is wrong, and we join together to fight for this good. The ways we believe to fight for this good may differ, but we all seek the same good. As Bush stated in his commencement address at West Point, “Different circumstances require different methods but not different moralities. Moral truth is the same in every culture, in every time, and in every place” (Bush 2002). Though some
oppose Bush’s methods through antiwar efforts, I believe his heart was in the right place. He sought to defend and fight for his country the way he knew how, and I commend him for that. But alluding to the words spoken by Martin Luther King, Jr., I do not believe that attacking their country will keep them from attacking ours. Teaching them a lesson in which country is the stronger, more forceful one will not strip them of their intentions. As Bush has also claimed, “The United States respects the people of Afghanistan. After all, we are currently its largest source of humanitarian aid; but we condemn the Taliban regime. It is not only repressing its own people, it is threatening people everywhere by sponsoring and sheltering and supplying terrorists” (Bush 2001). We seek to expose and develop the good of this nation, but we cannot ignore the persistence of the evil that aims to remake the world. As stated before, we as a nation stand for freedom, liberty, and happiness, something we believe in for all. And I believe it is our priority and duty not only as US citizens but human beings to seek goodness in the face of evil, to love in spite of the hate, and to be a light in a world of darkness. Though a world full of peace and harmony seems completely idealistic and unattainable considering how diverse people really are, I believe we can reach our full potential as a nation if we were to truly accept and love people no matter what their background or where they stand. As Stephen J. Hartnett states in You are Fit for Something Better, “The whole world is, in fact, participating in diffuse yet interconnected struggles” (Hartnett 2007). Though our hardships and brokenness seem so different and unrelated, we all seek the same thing. We all want that hope—that light, that goodness, that love. The United States of America was founded on the dream of freedom to
pursue broad ideals that come differently for different people. But one thing remains the same: we are all called to the same freedom. We are not entitled to judge others nor force what we believe onto others. We are meant to accept each individual for who they are, what they stand for, and the life they want to pursue. Instead of belittling people because they have different views or trying to defeat them by bringing them down, we should allow people to reach their full potential by encouraging them to seek good. The evil, the hate, and the darkness in this world create a shadow over all these people who are meant to shine. I believe we are all meant to expose ourselves and each other to the good, the love, and the light. Unfortunately, we all know the harsh reality of this world. People continue to let the hate and the darkness win in the limitations of fear and uncertainty. Race still separates, religions clash, social standing creates barriers, and the bad in all of us comes out every once in a while. But as individuals, we can always hope for more. We can daily support each other in the freedom to voice our opinions and our beliefs, and instead of immediately disagree, actually listen and take what we can to learn from one another. We can claim truth and goodness whenever we get the chance, from small discussions to large events. Whether we create projects to advocate for hope and love, hold events to raise awareness or even funds to benefit others, or start campaigns to encourage others to love better, to know better, and to be better, there are always opportunities to make the world a better place. As Hartnett adds, “Everything we do can have multiplier effects, spreading through space to reach audiences never imagined” (Hartnett 2007). What we do matters, and the effects of what we do carry on in more ways than we could possibly know. When tragedies like the September 11th attacks happen, the world seems a little darker. Even in the smallest acts of hatred, we can easily be discouraged to believe in anything
better. But time and time again, we see people rise above. Individuals come together through acts that were meant to separate, forgiveness shines through when only anger and bitterness seem fair, and hope still remains even in the darkest of days. No matter what we face as individuals, as a nation, or as a whole wide world, we have all been given the gift to be light to one another and make sure no one ever feels alone. While this world will never be completely free of evil or hate, we can stand together in the firm belief that love always wins. Works Cited Bush, GW. Address to Congress. September 20, 2001. Bush, GW. State of the Union Address. January 26, 2002. Bush, GW. Commencement Address, West Point. June 1, 2002. Hartnett, Stephen J. (2007). You are Fit for Something Better: Communicating Hope in Anti War Activism.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?