9/11 is the Day I Learned to Hate


I learned to hate not a particular person, but an idea. A way of thinking. Sept. 11, 2001 is the day I learned to hate organized religions—all of them.

That’s because the night of Sept. 10 was the first time someone I loved revealed his anti-Semitic side to me. He showed me that although he can say words like, “I love you” and “I want to marry you someday,” he also had the ability to say, “All Jews are arrogant.”

I remember I slept in the morning of Sept. 11 because of that fight. I was 19 years old and missed my first class at the local community college. I’d just walked out of the shower, wrapped in towels, when my phone rang. It was my father.

“Are you OK?” he asked me, his voice cracking.

My stomach dropped. How could he know what happened last night? Nervous, I sucked it up and said, “Yea Dad, everything’s fine. Why?”

“Haven’t you seen the news?”

Borrowed from Google Images

Hair still dripping, I flipped on the T.V. and watched in solidarity with the rest of America, as smoke billowed into the heavens  from two magnificent towers. And I knew why my father wept.

My parents are both New Yorkers.

Later they said it was terrorism. They said it was Islamic extremists. But I knew … I knew. It was religion. Divisive. Hateful. Demonic.

Religion was the reason a boy no longer wanted to marry me. And religion was the reason 3,000 people died that fateful day.

 

Remember to love in honor of those who died

Yes, Sept. 11 is the day I learned to hate. You may ask, “Why share my story today, when so many other bloggers will be doing the same—on the 10-year anniversary of 9/11?”

Borrowed from Google Images

Truth is, I’ve never written about Sept. 11 until now. It’s crazy to think we have a whole generation of kids growing up who know nothing but a perpetual state of war in this country. They’ll never know what it was like to fly without paranoia, to live without the Patriot Act, to be at peace with most of the world.

So many died on Sept. 11, 2001. And so many more died serving their country in the wars that followed. So many heroes saved lives, and so many lives were ruined.

I’m writing today to say in these past 10 years—since I learned to hate—I’ve learned to love again. I’ve forgiven myself and found new (and better) happiness with someone else. I’ve learned the difference between religion and faith.

I wish and hope our country can do the same.

In honor of every victim of Sept. 11, I want you to remember that love heals. It pushes the world forward, and it inspires. Let’s never forget Sept. 11 by striving to be the country we were before that fateful day. Let’s have faith in each other again, and honor those we lost by opening our hearts.

MY QUESTION TO YOU: What images and/or emotions does this profound day—the 10-year anniversary of 9/11—evoke for you? Looking back, what has been your greatest lesson, whether in life, or in your writing?

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16 thoughts on “9/11 is the Day I Learned to Hate

  1. I don’t understand how the acts of extremists groups has pushed you towards hate of organized religion? This wasn’t all of Islam flying those planes into the Twin Towers, it was an extremist group led by a twisted man.

    1. It wasn’t the acts of the extremist groups alone that made me feel that way. It was the combination of the 9/11 events, mixed with the anti-Semitism my boyfriend-at-the-time revealed to me the night before (he was Christian). And I saw all the divisive lines that had been drawn by religion (ALL of them: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc).

      I know it wasn’t Islam flying those planes into the towers, and I never thought that then either. It’s the idea that religion can cause so many divisive lines (any religion’s ideology can be twisted, including my ex’s, which became twisted toward me). I’d felt the hate for being a Jew, the night before 9/11. And even after 9/11, I watched the spiral of “Islamaphobia” in this country, and it sickened me. But, as you can see from my post, I eventually learned the difference between religion and faith and no longer feel that way anymore. And I hope our country can heal the same way. That’s the point of this piece.

      Thanks for chiming in and asking these questions. I haven’t seen you here in awhile! Glad to have you back. 🙂

      –Shari

  2. Thanks, Shari, for sharing your thoughts about 9/11. It is strange to think an entire generation of kids will grow up not knowing how different America was before that day. I won’t share my 9/11 story here (since I did that on my own blog). But what I will say is that I wish I had the courage to see 9/11 as an instigator for change in my life. Of course, it was in a negative way. But looking back, I wish I had the foresight to realize life is short and I need to realize what I want out of it and work toward it. Of course, hindsight is 20/20. But if I think back to ten years ago and I had made a few changes differently, life may have more choices for me now. So now I try to look at all experiences — whether good or bad — as a way to evaluator where I am with my life and how it will help me get to the next point.

    1. I will have to read your story, Leah, within the next day. LOL! I’m trying to play catch-up. I think many of us wish we had the ability to see 9/11 then the way we see it now. But something that powerful, how can you know what to make of it at the time? It takes time to remove yourself, emotionally, from the event to really understand it, I think. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on my page!

      –Shari

  3. Thanks Shari for sharing your thoughts on 9/11. I have to add that 9/11 did not change just America. It has changed the entire world. We did not just lose 3000 innocent people on that day. We’ve lost thousands of others in its aftermath. What is so disheartening is the fact that that the word “Muslim” today has almost become a synonym for a “terrorist.” When a bombing happens, before we even have any facts, it is automatically assumed that Muslim extremists could be behind it. That word extremist somehow becomes diluted and only Muslim sticks in people’s minds. As a result, we constantly have an urge to explain that Islam is never religion of hate and violence, as “a Pakistani Boy” says. But to be honest, I am tired of explaining. I think if people want to be ignorant and bury their heads in the sand, that is their choice and my explaining will do nothing to change that. All I know is that 9/11 brought back devastating moments and memories that I experienced back in my homeland of Bosnia – something you would not wish upon your worst enemy. My heart goes to all of the people who lost their loved ones on that horrific day.

    1. Great add, Mirsada. Thank you. Yes, I completely agree: 9/11 changed the world in addition to America. I’ve seen the progression of “Islamaphobia,” and it’s made me very sad too. I’d like to think we’re at a better place now than 5 or 7 years ago, but I’m not always sure. Even though I’m not Muslim, whenever I hear derogatory words used about Muslims, I try and say something. I believe it’s my duty to stand up for those who are not around at those times to defend themselves. There is a huge difference between Muslims and Islamic extremists. I wish more people would choose to educate themselves and not be so ignorant.

    1. Thank you Renee! Such a huge compliment coming from you. Although most of my posts on this blog are either funny or lighthearted, this was a subject I wanted to be very real and very serious about.

  4. Hard to believe it’s been 10 years… My parents called from PA to AZ and told us to turn on the news. So we watched as the second plane hit. Sat dazed and stunned. I remember thinking, “Why would I go to work today when THIS has happened?” I did, though. And we all walked numbly around, unable to work anyway. Those images will never be erased from my memory – or the luck we had that my brother-in-law had left the WTC about an hour BEFORE it all happened, before America changed…

    1. Wow Melissa, just … WOW. So grateful your brother-in-law left just in time. That statement stopped me in my tracks. Thank you for sharing your story with us. This is such a solemn weekend, it seems.

      –Shari

  5. Thank you for sharing such an honest reflection of 9-11. If the lesson we could all learn from tragedies like this could be to become more openhearted, I think we’d be in good shape. Hopefully we will get there one day. Wonderful post.

    1. Ariana,

      I’m with you, life has become divided, both before and after 9/11. I fear with you, that it’ll never be the same as before. But I do hope that through love, we can get as close to that time as possible! Thanks for reading and commenting, as always! 🙂

      –Shari

  6. religion is way more than that. people have turned their religions upside down and 9/11 was the result of it. Being a Muslim, i can assure you that Islam is never a religion of hate and violence. it’s just that people let their personal views and feelings and opinions get in the way…..

    On 9/11, i wrote my first ever poem when i was 8. It was about peace.

    Cheers from Pakistan!

    1. Dear ‘A Pakistani Boy,’

      Thank you for this kind and endearing comment on my site. What a treat to have someone from Pakistan read my stuff! I actually have a very good Muslim friend. She is a survivor of the Bosnian War. And through her, I’ve learned what TRUE Islam is like. And it is very peaceful. I think it’s very touching you wrote your first poem on 9/11, when you were 8 years old, and it was about peace. Gives me chills thinking about it. God Bless, and cheers from America!

      –Shari

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