Where Is The Love? A Look Back At What Was Lost On 9/11

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twin towers
Freedom is not free and you don't buy it with wars.

"People killin', people dyin'
Children hurt and you hear them cryin'
Can you practice what you preach
And would you turn the other cheek…"
-Black Eyed Peas "Where is the Love?" (2003)

My most vivid memories of 9/11 were of the phone calls I heard on the news made during the tragic last moments of people's lives. Their final acts were desperate attempts to communicate the love they felt for their partners, their children and their families. The love they felt was all they had to say. "Please always remember how much I love you." This was the phrase that filled the airwaves out of the planes and in the towers before they fell. There were no calls for revenge among the victims, their trauma and fear of their impending death dissolved into love; it was the only message that the victims wanted to leave behind.

Even as these phone calls were played and replayed on the news for days afterward, the messages of love were quickly overshadowed by the fear and trauma that all of us survivors were left with. Like much of the rest of the world, our safety was not absolute as we had always taken for granted. We could be hurt by terror like most other countries by people who were filled with hatred. In the days following 9/11, our course was set on revenge and our national priority became security.

No one could foresee the shocking costs that this direction would exact from us. The sticker shock of our revenge wars, has just about bankrupted us. Although the National Priorities Project puts the cost at upwards of $1.23 trillion, the actual indirect costs, including long-term veterans' benefits is at least $6 trillion. We have drained our treasury, our future and our children's future in the name of security. Every community in the nation is currently struggling to fund and staff their local schools and community emergency services. Are we actually more secure while funding military operations around the world when we cannot create enough work to maintain our infrastructure at home?

We sacrificed not only our financial security for this direction, but also much of what we treasure most- our personal freedoms. Benjamin Franklin aptly predicted this situation when he said, "Those who give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one." The Patriot Act following 9/11 was the beginning of our willingness to relinquish our precious civil liberties and accept racial profiling as a way of life. Freedom is not free and you don't buy it with wars. The real cost of freedom is exacted from the courage it requires to live with the insecurity that is inherent in a free world.

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission.
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