By Amanda Awanjo
The sun rises, sluggish and hesitant on Friday morning. It is September, 11 2009 and the air is heavy with memory and grief. The day begins and passes with regret, loss, and confusion, each etched deep into its minutes, seconds, and hours. I remember that day, eight years ago: I was in fifth grade, coming back from lunch, our teacher rushed us into the classroom and turned on the television. At the time, I realized it was serious, but it was distant; it was New York’s problem. I knew nothing of the terrorists the news spoke of, or the oddly named countries from which they came. This hatred, this war was not a part of my reality.
The fifth graders of 2009 have whole different kind of reality. Today’s youngest generation has a very vivid view of the world of “terror”. On August 13, an in-depth report called Generation Islam aired on CNN. This documentary takes a look at the war torn Middle East, more specifically the wars being waged for and in the minds of the young people in this region. With documentaries, interviews, articles, and allegiance clubs in schools, there has been a national movement for the understanding of a culture that once seemed so far off. Today, there is fervor to understand this culture and its people but, for all the interest, has anything changed? Eight years into the “War on Terror”, I still cannot decide.
A recent poll from CNN states that the amount of Americans that have unfavorable views of Muslim countries is 46 percent, as of 2009. That’s five percent higher than when the poll was last taken in 2002. As well, eight in ten Americans are reported to believe that Muslims in Muslim countries view them unfavorably. Hate and miscommunication continue to burn through our chances of a peaceful resolution. At most, the media coverage of the “War on Terror” has done nothing but desensitize us to the images of war and hatred. In order to truly win the war, the bridge between the Middle East and America must be mended.
In his inaugural speech President Obama said, “Our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.” Future generations, our generation, must take advantage of the great technologies at our fingertips and reach out to communicate with the young people in these countries. Show ourselves to be in likeness with each other in the things that really matter and bridge the gap that years of eroding hate has made. It is impossible to fix the mistakes others have made, but we have the power to thoroughly change our world for the better, to absolve violent past behaviors through diplomatic means.