9/11 is def­i­nite­ly a piv­otal moment from the last 20 years, espe­cial­ly for the west­ern world. It was a moment when an unan­tic­i­pat­ed attack took place which claimed the lives of almost 3,000 Amer­i­cans. What fol­lowed thrust our nation into two (or more) wars and chal­lenged our notions of civ­il lib­er­ties and pri­va­cy.  Emer­gency Man­age­ment per­son­nel extract­ed an entire ency­clo­pe­dia of lessons as did peo­ple in the pre­pared­ness com­mu­ni­ty. This is what I extract 10 years ago:

1) Reli­gious extrem­ism mat­ters — We can no longer write off those that preach vio­lence in the name of reli­gion. In fact, they are far more dan­ger­ous than their sec­u­lar coun­ter­parts.  Of course, some reli­gious fun­da­men­tists are far more vio­lent­ly extreme than oth­ers. It is a wor­thy bat­tle to con­front the forces of reli­gious fun­da­men­tal­ists and “explain” you will not sub­mit.

2) Pol­i­tics and lead­er­ship mat­ters — Through the 90’s, I thought pol­i­tics were a mat­ter for the tabloids. Dur­ing the time when a stained, blue dress was the cen­ter of atten­tion, the 9/11 plot was hatched and exe­cut­ed.

3) The gov­ern­ment can­not save you. In times of dis­as­ter, the gov­ern­ment can­not be trust­ed to save you. You must be pre­pared to save your­self when the gov­ern­ment is over­whelmed with press­ing mat­ters. You nev­er know when you will be with­out all the sys­tems of sup­port on which we are depen­dent. Of course, this les­son was rein­forced by Kat­ri­na, Rita and Ike in the sub­se­quent 10 years.

4) Be care­ful what rights you aban­don in times of cri­sis, you will nev­er get them back. In the years after 9/11, I ful­ly sup­port­ed ren­di­tion, war, and spy­ing on Amer­i­cans all in the name of keep­ing me safe. In ret­ro­spect, there are zero safe­guards to pro­tect ordi­nary cit­i­zens from either extend­ed stays in sun­ny Cuba or final rewards in unknown loca­tions. What start­ed in one admin­is­tra­tion will now be with us for­ev­er.

In the end 9/11 began to end my nor­mal­cy bias and open my eyes to what could and did hap­pen. I take that les­son to heart each and every day while express­ing my response by prepar­ing for the unknown.

What did 9/11 change in you?

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