The hate was incomprehensible, and it still is

Derrick Knutson

Derrick Knutson

I was in Mr. Anderson’s 10th grade history class when the first plane crashed into the north tower.

On the classroom television, we watched the events unfold the rest of the morning, confused about what exactly was happening.

Some newscasters said a helicopter had hit the World Trade Center; others said it was a plane.

From there, I went to my second-hour class: Mr. Jurasin’s woodshop course.

There would be no woodworking that day.

He also had his classroom television tuned to the national news, and all of us watched — awestruck and horrified — as a second plane flew into the south tower.

In an instant, it became apparent that the first plane crash was not an accident. This was a coordinated attack.

Over the next few hours in my other courses, my classmates and I watched the mighty towers crumble to the pavement below in a jet-fuel-laden blaze.

It’s still incomprehensible, even when I think about it today, the 12th anniversary of the attacks.

Almost 3,000 people died that day, their lives cut short by people who had never met them and hated them simply because of their way of life.

In the following years, the United States and some of its allies waged war in Afghanistan in an attempt to root out and destroy Al Qaeda, the terrorist group responsible for the attacks.

Next came Iraq, because the U.S. government claimed it had weapons of mass destruction and was a threat to global security.

Multitudes of people — U.S. troops, enemy combatants and civilians — have died during these two military campaigns.

Now President Barack Obama is petitioning Congress to strike Syria as a response to the recent atrocity of Bashar al-Assad gassing his own people.

I also find this act nearly impossible to comprehend. The videos that have surfaced since the attack are truly gruesome and hard to watch, even in the edited form that’s shown on television.

After the attacks of 9/11, I didn’t know what the right action would be for America. I’m far from an expert on war or foreign policy.

The same is true for me following the gas attacks in Syria. People are firing off opinions left and right about what they think the United States should do, and I haven’t offered up my opinion to anyone.

I don’t share what I think would be “the right decision,” because there isn’t one.

If we bomb Syria, people will die, many of them innocent people who had no involvement in the atrocity.

If America does nothing, it sends a message to rogue countries that the Geneva Conventions mean absolutely nothing and the international community will not punish those who violate them.

I wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of the people making the decisions about how to deal with a situation that could very well lead to another war.

It just makes me sad that there is such evil in the world.

The 9/11 attacks opened our eyes to that evil in a way that hadn’t been done before, and it just seems like hate will never cease.

I can’t understand hate; I don’t hate anyone. Sure, I get irritated with people every so often, but that’s only human.

I just hope that someday, somehow, people can get beyond hate. I’m a realist, so I know this is probably just a pipe dream, but there needs to be that semblance of hope inside us all.

Hope is sometimes such a small feeling, but it can grow and flourish, given time and the right environment.

Perhaps if enough people step aside from hate one day, that hope inside of me and others can transform into something far greater: the reality of peace.

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