Friday, September 14, 2007

50; September 11th

114 years ago, on this day, the World Parliament of Religion had it's first meeting. It was the first formal worldwide religious dialogue. Some religions were not included, notably many indigenous spiritualism movements and Sikhism, but I'm unsure if these were malicious or casual oversights. I assume the latter.

Satyagraha, Mahatma Ghandi's platform of non-violent philosophy and movement, was officially coined 101 years ago. The term combines teaching from the Upanishads, and other South-East Asian philosophy with historical figures such as Jesus and Thoreau to develop a system of tenets that stresses commitments to non-violence, truth, poverty, and fearlessness, amongst others.

Over 2,000 prisoners were set free, 67 years ago, from Japanese POW camps. The World Wide Fund for Nature charted 46 years ago. It is New Years in the Coptic and Ethiopian calendars.

Also on this day: Pinochet ousted democratically-elected Allende in a coup in Chile in 1973. The 1st Cavalry Division of the United States entered Vietnam eight years earlier and 21 years after American allied troops entered Nazi Germany. Four score and eight years ago the US Marines invaded Honduras. The Mountain Meadows Massacre killed 140 people in what would serve as a catalyst leading to the Utah War 150 years ago. And in 1776 a British-American peace conference on Staten Island failed, leading to greater struggles and conflict of the American revolution.

And there were four hijacked planes, three of which hit their targets of the World Trade Center towers and Pentagon, on of which, destined for the White House, was diverted and crashed in Pennsylvania.

I still had classes that afternoon. I did not know what the buildings were, or the significance. My mind conjured up memories of seeing torn and shredded infants of the Oklahoma City bombing. Someone had blown up a building. So what? My mom suggested that the sky-line eyesores had been taken out by disgruntled architects, since they were awfully ugly buildings.

It's been suggested that this event will be our generation's Kennedy assassination. It may be a moment where we all remember where we were, what we were doing, and our reactions. Of course it is also a pivotal moment in the lives of those generations which can also remember the Kennedy assassination. It is a moment, an event, that was important throughout the world, as disruptive as an assassination or a change in battle. The immediate effects are separated now from the side-effects and consequences, and will be removed further in the years to come as the catalyst for all sorts of unforeseen events; just as Archduke Ferdinand's death may be said to be responsible first for acknowledging treaties and alliances, then WWI, and finally the national condition of Germany after the war which led to Nazism. We may say that the September 11 attacks lead to fear, and a sky-rocketing approval of the administration which used that power to launch wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Whether these wars will lead is unknown, though a regional war seems at the moment most likely.

But let's take part of the day and reflect on the good times this day has brought to the world, and the people responsible for those positive changes, as well as the negative. Remember that a day is merely a unit of solar brilliance and eclipse, and has drastic events and normal events. Births as well as deaths.

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