Tired of September 11th - A Canadian View
I think September 11th has been done to death.
Most North Americans still seem mesmerized by what happened on that day. Anyone who tries to talk about how self-centred and hysterical we've become since then is labelled as being soft on terrorism.
But in the past twelve months, more North Americans were murdered by their spouses than by terrorists. Food poisoning killed three times as many of us as terrorists did. Drunk drivers killed more than five times as many. Ten times as many of us committed suicide as were killed by terrorists. The North American death toll from smoking was 100 times the number from terrorism.
If the next ten years are like the past ten, you still are more likely to be struck by lightning than to be killed or injured in a terrorist attack. Am I saying that terrorism is okay with me? No. What I'm saying is that in the sea of human misery, September 11th was little more than a ripple. I want you to hear this. I am not soft on terrorism. I am soft on children. Today, around the globe, something like 30,000 of the world's children will die of hunger and preventable childhood diseases. In the days since we watched 3,000 of 'our kind' die in the World Trade Centre, 3 million of the world's children starved to death. Beautiful, much loved little beings that mothers and fathers and sisters will grieve and weep for. CNN didn't film them, but it happened just the same.
North American governments are now planning to spend more than twenty billion dollars a year to fight terrorism. Twenty billion dollars a year just happens to be the amount the World Health Organization has estimated it would take to end hunger in the world. It's the amount of money we would need to spend to create a world where no child goes to bed hungry. We've heard a lot of talk since September 11th about how the terrorists are callous and heartless cowards. And here we are, blithely preparing to spend a sum of money so huge that with it we could rid the world of the scourge of hunger, and we're not even weighing that possibility.
We're so frantic to save our own skins that we don't want to know that we ARE making choices.
If we continue on our current path, the architect of the 21st Century will be fear. We will have allowed a motley collection of thugs, misfits and bullies to hijack our hopes for the world.
I know that it is still within our power to build a future with love and compassion at the centre. The first step is simple: we must recognize our panic and calm down.
Bruce O'Hara, British Columbia, speaking on CBS
Date created: 11-May-04