Today is the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. I remember where I was when I heard the news, as pretty much every American above a certain age does. I remember watching The Towers fall. I remember the candle-lit vigils, the fear, and the oddly-quiet skies, free of air traffic for several days in early September.
I also remember one of the first things I thought, after I was pretty sure it wasn’t the beginning of World War III:
Oh, man, are the whack jobs ever going to capitalize on this!
I know. Cynical. But I was not wrong. Instead of coming together as a nation, our so-called leaders at the time managed to parlay the events of September 11, 2001, into a virtual rampage of jingoism, civil rights violations (which still continue today), war profiteering, and fascism. The Bush Administration, aided by Congress and a complicit corporate media, managed to squander the goodwill of the world, while trampling on the very Constitution they were sworn to defend.
If this were the only result of that horrible time, I wouldn’t be writing this post. I would simply be observing in silence, praying for a light to come back to our nation. But this nationalist backlash engendered yet a second backlash–the reinvigoration of American liberals.
For 30 years or so, the Democrats and other more progressive parties had tried in vain to fire up the large number of liberals in the United States. After the 60s and 70s, and the economic betrayal of the Reagan/Bush eras, many liberals were just weary.
But George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Karl Rove did more to mobilize liberals in the United States than any Democrat could have hoped to do. Suddenly, speaking out was not just for granola-crunching, Birkenstock-wearing hippies. Librarians and nuns were the New Radicals. And it wasn’t just politics. The Christian Left stood up in a big way to reclaim their faith from the right-wing crackpots who were more interested in guns and gays than in God.
And while conservatives still have the bigger voice in America, liberals are still moving upwards and making their voices heard.
So what does this have to do with Opportunity Rising? It’s just a reminder that even the most horrific events can serve as a catalyst for progress, social change, and justice. It’s a reminder that even when things look the bleakest, there are people out there brave enough, strong enough, and smart enough to stand up for what is right.
So while we still fight daily against prejudice, bigotry, fear-mongering, and financial inequality, we can at least be assured that our numbers are growing. We will get there. We just have to keep fighting the good fight.
Love to you all–