Web Exclusive |Back to 9/11

Web Exclusive |Back to 9/11
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First Published: Mon, Sep 10 2007. 04 15 AM IST

Madhusmita Priyadarshini, Content Editor, Livemint
Madhusmita Priyadarshini, Content Editor, Livemint
Updated: Mon, Sep 17 2007. 08 35 AM IST
New Dellhi: Come 9/11 and the media goes hysterical over what happened six years ago and how the world has never been the same again. How in the introductory year of the 21st century, the world witnessed the terrible sight of its tallest towers being reduced to a heap of rubble.
Madhusmita Priyadarshini, Content Editor, Livemint
How as a result of WTC’s collapse, the famed Manhattan skyline changed forever and Ground Zero wore a deserted look even though America seems determined to resurrect the memory with a Daniel Libeskind - designed set of “Freedom Towers”, all of 1776 feet high which they think will be a befitting tribute to the American year of Independence.
What is disturbing here is that the commemoration seems to be more for the destruction of WTC’s majestic towers than for thousands of lives claimed in the attack. Even if the victims are remembered they are slotted as “New Yorkers” - a class different from all the tens and thousands of people who were killed in one or the other of the innumerable terrorist attacks that have become a regular feature in less fortunate parts of the world.
It would seem as if human life has not only become cheap but has also come to be arranged in a definite hierarchy, ranging from the least valuable to the most valuable. This then has to be a scary state of affairs.
Terrorism did not take its birth on 11 September, 2001. Scores of countries across the world had been suffering the menance for decades prior to 2001. Infact, we are well aware of how America had initially aided and abetted terrorist and militant groups across the globe to further its own interests.
Observers are quick to point out that the child which US had been nurturing has today grown into a full fledged Frankenstein Monster and is threatening to devour its very nurturer. The 9/11 crime only signalled this tranformation and America responded, predictably, by declaring worldwide war on terror and creating a mess in the middle east.
As for the date 9/11, the obsession of the media with it as a metophor of terror has almost made us forget that 9/11 has historical significance other than being the black date when America was attacked.
It was on 9/11 in the year 1893 that Swami Vivekananda addressed the World Parliament of Religions for the first time and spoke rather predictively of how , “Sectarianism, bigotry and its horrible descendent of fanaticism have for long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled it with violence, drenched it often with human blood, destroyed civilization, and sent whole nations to despair...”.
In his address at the final session of the Parliament he upheld tolerance and positive assimilation as being the future of every religion and the way to a better world. “The Christian is not to become a Hindu or Buddhist, nor a Hindu or a Buddhist... a Christian”, he said, “But each must assimilate the spirit of the others and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth”.
He wishfully predicted that “upon the banner of every religion will soon be written, inspite of resistance: ‘Help and not Fight’, ‘Assimilation and not Destruction’, ‘Harmony and Peace and not Dissension’.” This event was a sort of culmination of the cultural reawakening that India was experiencing throughout the 19th century.It established India’s image in the world as a preacher of tolerance, secularism, peace and harmony.
It was again on 9/11 in the year 1906 that the Indians in South Africa, under the leadership of Gandhiji resolved to use the method of passive resistance and civil disobedience. With this, India and the world at large, became equipped with a weapon by which the masses could join hands to counter high-handedness and oppression in all its manifestations.
On the other hand, 9/11 was also the date when in 1973 the elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile was brought down by a coup led by Augusto Pinochet. Hell broke loose and thousands of Chileans were tortured, mutilated and murdered in the line of the ‘Holocaust’ of Hitler.
So, the WTC attacks of 2001 is only one of the four great 9/11s that has shaped world history in the last, say, 120 years. In a strange sort of coincidence, as one might feel, the first two events seem to provide solutions to the two biggest problems of the contemporary world represented by the latter two events.
For, are not religious tolerance, truth and non-violence answers to violence, bigotry, mass-killing and terrorism? Are not Vivekananda and Gandhiji answers to Pinochet and Laden?
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First Published: Mon, Sep 10 2007. 04 15 AM IST
More Topics: 9/11 | Gandhi | Vivekananda | Manhattan | WTC |