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Where Are We Now?

"Others should feel sorry for the people that died. But as for complaining about how they're trying to take our freedom...maybe so. But there are people who never had freedom."
In the weeks since September 11, young people have been processing the tragedy in all kinds of ways. Many have been reading and watching the news more than usual. Some are keeping journals, making art and talking with friends and families as much as they can. And quite a few are using the internet as a way to express their thoughts and feelings about the events. What follows is a compilation of youth voices, from various sources and websites around the web (Including WireTap). It is by no means an exhaustive sampling, but we do hope that it will show a variety of perspectives.

It started almost immediately. Youth went on line to join message boards and email their friends about the events as they happened. Some, like those in New York, were writing in states of fear and shock and posting their words where others could hear about what they were going through.
"I go to Stuyvesant High School, which is on Chambers Street and is pretty close to the World Trade Center. I got in school at 8 a.m., and everything was normal. I went to my first period class and sat there bored. Then we went on to second period and started a discussion. There was a loud bang that sounded just like construction so we all ignored it. Then the principal made an announcement saying that a plane had hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Naturally, we all rushed to the windows, but we were on the wrong side of the building. Anyway, although it was strange, we weren't very scared, because obviously that accident would not happen again. We moved on to third period.

It was during third period that it was announced that the Pentagon was attacked. Class stopped but we were not permitted to leave the room. We crowded the windows and saw the World Trade Center covered in smoke. The lights went out, but then came back on.

I then went to my homeroom, which thankfully was on the first floor. We saw people running by outside our window, peering fearfully back over their shoulders. Finally, after 10:30 am, we were released into the streets of Manhattan and told to go uptown."
--Jessica, Chickclick

Within the first few days, young people started to evaluate their surroundings. They attended peace vigils, contemplated the world around them, and turned their attention, like the rest of the country, toward the future.
"Missing tonight, we walked the streets of Manhattan experiencing the sinking-heart feeling of all those who are left standing with worry, confusion, denial, outrage over their loss or possible loss. But you can still feel the hope they all have that their brother, daughter, mother will come home to them. Any wall, telephone pole, pay phone... they were all covered with missing posters, surrounded by serenades of candles. The faces of thousands lost in the wreckage of Tuesday's attack look out at you. Graduations, wedding pictures, candids with their family or their children... there they are - real as anything. you see them, therefore you are drawn into the reality and the severity of all of this. To turn from those pictures and see family members standing with tears in their eyes, looking at you looking at their missing loved ones... How do you react? Comfort? Move on? You can't. It burns into you. It becomes a part of you. You can't turn your head, walk away, and NOT be affected by it forever.

The vigil in union square was profound. Thousands gathered together to share in silence the hope and prayers that there will be comfort and peace for this country and each individual who has been struck by such a fantastic blow like this... it was bitter sweet. In a city that is filled with people who usually have no time for others - especially strangers - there was such an amazement of camaraderie and comfort.

New York is still standing... together, more than ever.
--Alliloop, from the girl in the lost and found's journal

Youth looked toward the Media, searched for answers, and were often critical of what they found.
I think I 'm tried of everyone throwing around the term "media" and not acknowledging that there are many sources for news out there and that if you don't trust what you're being told its your responsibility to do research. Yes we are being manipulated, but now is the time to be telling people to look for alternative sources.

Check out the Newshour instead of CNN. Read IndyMedia.org instead of Yahoo! If you're angry take responsibility for making a change. Now is the time when many might be willing to listen, because truth is a quest- not a gift.
--NJN, Youth In Control
I feel really bad for the lives lost, don't get me wrong. It's really sad. But the fact of the matter is, America is full of contradictions (and a lot of crap). We crusade against child abuse, while endorsing companies like Nike and Gap. We complain about animal rights while wearing leather shoes. We believe racism is wrong, but we continually group races together, saying they're this or that (such as the Palestinians...I bet tons of them are sitting at home, feeling sorry for us, but right now, most Americans hate pretty much all Palestinians for celebrating our current problem). This is a tragedy. But what about the other tragedies in the world? It's a tragedy that millions of people are starving all over the world, without access to food or water. But we don't see any of this on the news. We don't get begged for help by every aspect of the press. Before this happened, our media covered the Condit story for weeks. Not the story of Chandra Levy so much as Condit, his affairs, and can we trust him as congressman? What about the tragedies?! Have we forgotten them?

Anyway, like I said, this is an incredible tragedy, but I personally don't think we should expect others to feel sorry for us when we don't do anything to feel sorry for the tragedies that others live daily. We should feel sorry for us. Others should feel sorry for the people that died. But as for complaining about how they're trying to take our freedom...maybe so. But there are people who never had freedom.
--Voyager Girl, Chickclick
"On September 11th my friend, an Indian Muslim, received a phone call from her mother that morning telling her to lay-low and watch her back. The mother had gotten harassed already, at work, and did not want her daughter to experience the same horror."

They argued about the words the mainstream media were using to describe the events, and the aftermath. .
The September 11 tragedy cannot be characterized as anything other than a horrific assault on the people who were killed and the places they were at. To call it an attack on the USA at this point is to go along with the war propaganda machine currently revving up.

--Krishna, Marigold"

They responded to the anti-arab sentiments and got angry, spoke up about their perspective.
My former neighbor informed me last night that we should "exterminate the entire race." When I asked him which "race" he meant, he said "whatever one that is."

--Bec,Marigold"
Okay, this is all surreal to me, but I have a question...if we should be helping each other in this time of need, why are we turning on people who were once our neighbors just because of their nationality (i.e., Muslims and Pakistanians)? It's not their fault -- they're just as American as you are. Don't turn on your fellow person!

--Starstruck6, Chickclick
On September 11th my friend, an Indian Muslim, received a phone call from her mother that morning telling her to lay-low and watch her back. The mother had gotten harassed already, at work, and did not want her daughter to experience the same horror.
On Sept. 11th America did not seem like America. Or at least the America the leaders want you to believe it is. Many individuals, members of Congress, political leaders, and the news media showed its true racist and elitist nature. On Sept. 11th one television pundit said, "Palestinian Americans all across the U.S. are celebrating today." Television anchors purposefully showed Palestinians (in Palestine) celebrating (according to reporters) the terrorism attack in the U.S, although this footage is now under question.
On Sept. 11th I got angry. I got tired. I hurt.
On Sept. 11th, I couldn't believe what I was hearing, what I was seeing.

--Logan, WireTap submission
Of course I think we are all in agreement that nobody deserves to die in such a horrible violent manner, but the difference is that you seem to think that such respect for life and liberty is only deserved by Americans. If Bin Laden is responsible for the attacks, the Afghani people as a whole are not the ones who should be punished. Is it their fault that they are under an oppressive regime, which forces them to live in fear? Why should thousands or (God forbid) millions of innocent Afghanis lose their lives because of a small dominant minority? Especially when the US has some responsibility for the Taliban's domination. The Taliban was kept alive in US financed refugee camps in the 80's when America was united with Afghani fundamentalist groups against Communism in Russia. And your beloved George W. gave the Taliban 43 million dollars in May of this year.

I just hope your blind uninformed patriotism evolves with learning.

--TigerLily Chickclick
I think that any normal person would feel uncomfortable or mad about this, and I think that if you don't then there is probably something wrong with you, but to go to the level of hating every person that is of a dif. race, being terrified of everything, and just completely shutting down your life, I think that is just ridiculous.

--cheer1dominique, Youth In Control
I agree that it's just human nature to mourn the dead and to stick together after we've been effected as much as we have, but using the flag as a weapon really doesn't sit well with me either.

I mean, if the flag brings you solace and strength and you use it as a touchstone to reach out to other people, then that's fine. Personally, I was most affected by all the OTHER countries in the world who were displaying the American flag as an object of reverence, and when I saw the Buckingham Palace soldiers playing "The Star-Spangled Banner" during the Changing of the Guard on the BBC, I actually starting welling up. If people here were displaying the flags of the UK and Germany and Colombia and Pakistan and all the other countries whose citizens were killed in the attack, then maybe I'd feel a bit better. But if George W. Bush wants to frame this as an attack on freedom and democracy (and not even acknowledge the other side except with the line that he's now drawn), then I'd really just rather cherish the freedom and democracy, because patriotism and national pride can and do exist without them anyway.
--Mark Nettesheim, Tap In
So far I've been called about every name in the book for being a Pacifist. Before the WTC no one cared about that. I was told I should "rally around the president" after the election but now people are very insistent that you become "patriotic". The tragedy has put the patriotic aura on Bush and he can do no wrong.
"There's a fine line between Patriotism and Fanaticism."


--S. Hill, Tap In
Watched Bush's speech live on Thursday. I never had much respect for him until I saw it. It was moving. It forced the reality of these horrible things to sink in my brain, finally, and I made me think that we ARE going to get through this. It made me realize that peace isn't the answer. It made me realize that the entire world is grieving with America. It made me get this sudden wave of patriotism I have never felt before.
--Shy Emma, Tap In

Like generations that have come before them, this catastrophe, and the potential outcome of a military response has some young re-evaluating their whole lives.
Last Tuesday's violence and the human loss that followed moved me to get out of myself and see a bigger picture that I was not used to seeing. I am a second-year student at UC Berkeley, and I'm studying the sciences and the humanities -- convinced that these two branches of knowledge are indeed one.Lately, I've been much needed at home, so I have been commuting to school everyday from San Francisco. I consider myself a pretty busy person not because of all the things I do, but because of all the things I want to do, but just can't seem to find the time to do. I realized at one point that all I need to do is to prioritize -- something I've been having great trouble doing -- until last Tuesday.

When push comes to shove -- what does it matter what wealth you've obtained? What does it matter what car you drove or what house you lived in? What does it matter that you were Democrat or Republican or Third Way? What does it matter that your country was most powerful of all? What does it matter whether you were American or Asian or Middle-Eastern. The only thing you can take with you when you know you must die is your humanity, your memory of your human experience, the interactions and relationships you've had with other humans. It's a time where nothing else matters that much. I don't think this is something particularly profound -- I think I already did know this -- that's why I had such a hard time prioritizing -- it's just that I had sort of forgotten. It's easy to forget when your picture of life is so detailed, so focused; it's easy to forget when you find yourself in a society that is very goal-oriented and that has defined for its members certain standards of success. A sense of clarity has overcome me so that I now have no doubts about what my priorities are -- first and foremost it is quite simply to be a good person.
--Katherine Sear, WireTap submission





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