On September 11th, 2001, I woke up, brushed my teeth, and headed to class. As I walked in, I received a text message from a friend living in New York City, informing me that she was safe and I didn't need to worry. At the time, I had no idea what she was referring to, but figured I'd write her back after class. I was taking a course called "The End of History," the focus of which was a theory put forth by American political scientist Francis Fukuyama. In his thesis, he proposed that after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the cold war, the global battle of the ideologies was essentially over, Western liberal democracy had won our over communism, and all the interesting chapters of history (as we knew it) had effectively come to an end.
I remember the professor walking in, leaning against the desk, and informing the class that two planes had just flown into the Twin Towers. He then suggested if any of us had loved ones in New York City to leave class immediately and check-in with whomever we might need to check-in with. I recall a couple students rushing out of the room, after which he followed up by stating something along the lines of, "As of this moment, Fukuyama's theory has essentially been disproven, so if any of you would like to drop the class, we're still in the add/drop period and I wouldn't take offense if you decide to drop the class. For those of you who wish to remain, we're going to spend the semester exploring both Fukuyama's theory and the impact this morning's events will have on that theory."
The thing that saddens me is that in the aftermath of 9/11, we came together as a nation and said, "never forget," and we never have... at least, not with respect to those 2,977 lives.
Sadly, 20 years later, America finds itself facing an unprecedented pandemic that has cost the lives of over 659,000+ Americans - more than 200 times the number of lives lost on 9/11 - and yet there are still a significant number of Americans that are choosing to remain unvaccinated, despite the reality that doing so not only places their own lives at risk, but the lives of others as well.
I believe in America, I believe our freedoms, and I believe in our rights... but I also acknowledge that those freedoms and those rights don't exist in a vacuum. They can exist because we also share certain responsibilities and obligations to one another - such is the nature of community on every level. These responsibilities and obligation are not always codified in law, but they do exist in the fabric of our society, both morally and ethically.
If you've never forgotten the 2,977 lives lost on 9/11/2001, please don't forget about the 659,000 lives lost to COVID-19 (so far). If you haven't gotten vaccinated as of yet, I encourage you to honor the memory of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have perished during the past two years by getting vaccinated asap.
Regardless of whether the dangers we face come from terrorists or viruses, I encourage every American to love thy neighbor... think not only of yourself, but also those around you - those you love and know so well, and also those you've never met. Love everyone, do your part, and never forget.
...and that's all I have to say about that.