Editorial: Looking Back: Where Are We After One Year?



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If there is a single safe thing to say about America after Sept. 11, 2001, we can say that it has changed.

We often point to certain aspects of our culture that we feel testify to the great extent we've changed in response to the attacks.

At our airports, security lines are longer and screeners are more likely to stop us and search our bags. On our streets, it is not uncommon to see people who wear clothes that depict their feelings of American patriotism.

But these phenomena do not speak for how we as human beings have changed, trying still to recover from the shock of Sept. 11.

On this sacred day of reflection, many of us will ask ourselves that question, possibly in hopes of making sense out of the last 12 months.

The tangible changes are apparent, but what's more important is how we as a community have changed. As a society and as individuals, how have our values and personal lives been altered by the Sept. 11 tragedy?

To understand this and truly gain perspective on this question, we should examine exactly where we are as a community and a nation one year after the attacks.

Some of us are trying to return to what we had before Sept. 11, 2001. Exactly what we are striving for is uncertain. Nonetheless, a desire for a way of life that quells all uncertainties occupies much of our thought.

But by trying to go back to our way of life before Sept. 11, 2001, we are not.

In the past year, many Americans have been eagerly willing to compromise their own and others' civil liberties to address their uncertainties.

Academic freedom for international students studying at our nation's universities is now considered a sacrifice for heightened national security. In addition, dissenters of U.S. foreign policy after the Sept. 11 attacks have been chastised as being "un-American."

We must realize that trampling on the rights and liberties America cherished before Sept. 11 is no way to return to our way of life before the attacks one year ago. In disregarding these fundamental ideals, we are moving closer to what we abhorred before Sept. 11, 2001.

This one-year anniversary of the most devastating single event in American history provides us with a great opportunity. In reflecting on the past year, perhaps Americans can realize how to cope with the tragedies while respecting the freedoms Americans once cherished.

Instead of searching for ways to return to our old way of life, we should learn how to cope with the Sept. 11 tragedy. In doing so, Americans will still be able to be proud of the ideals that formed their nation.

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