"Why do Some People Hate us so Much?"
By Kathy Zager on 08/31/2011 @ 02:41 PM
9/11 was picture day at my middle school. I was thirteen years old. I had my most awkward picture of the Awkward Years taken right around the time when the first plane struck. The days after 9/11 were an education for me—I was developing an awareness of U.S. foreign policy, but the immediate impact of 9/11 for me was an awakening to the reality of hatred.
In the weeks and months after 9/11, I think my related thoughts were mostly limited to these themes:
I am considered an American by the global community, and it turns out that comes with some baggage. There are people in the world who’d like if I died. (Why do some people hate us so much?)
As children, we’re filled with myths about how safe our world is. It’s important that children feel safe and don’t lie awake at night panicking about foreign policy. I spent many nights as a child worried about the future—I loved being a kid! I had a pretty strong suspicion that life would be less enjoyable as I gained responsibilities. On bad nights, I asked my parents to talk me down by “reminding me of Christmas” or other great things in the future.
This is all to say I was very sensitive, and I know I wasn’t alone. Luckily I’d grown out the most extreme elements of this by 2001, but on 9/11, schools with young children struggled with the responsibility of communicating news of the attacks to their students, often choosing to leave that to parents. I remember resenting this at the time, but looking back, I see that it must have been terrifying to explain the events of 9/11 as they unfolded to a few thousand young people who were privileged to have little context for such a thing until that time.
“Why do some people hate us so much?” This is the question that can lead a person to a constructive perspective, or a destructive one. This is a short, simple question with a long, nuanced answer. Our craving for a simple answer is what motivates us to rally behind war. In times of fear and confusion, revenge feels like a simple answer. Now, as was the case ten years ago, those working for sustainable solutions must continue to advocate for peace in a climate more amenable to soundbites.