September 11, 2001 was a big day in my life. From 3,000 miles away, I watched the planes crash and the towers collapse. I went into shock, I think -- I can remember that, despite it being a picture-perfect, sunny day in Seattle, I spent the day shivering because I was so cold. I went to work sometime in the late morning, because I simply could not think of anything else to do. Nothing was done there that day -- my co-workers and I were all in a complete fog. One of my clear memories of the day, and I don't have many, is sitting with my boss. We simply looked blankly at each other for a while, and then she said "You realize that nothing is ever going to be the same again, don't you?" "Yeah," I replied. There didn't seem to be much else to say about it.
A few days later, I 'celebrated' my birthday by huddling in my bed with chills. No other symptoms, so I think it was still shock.
A few days after that, in the middle of a staff retreat, I suddenly doubled over with horrific stomach cramps and had to go home. More chills. More shock. I stayed in bed for four days, then finally stumbled to see a doctor, and was diagnosed with extreme stress.
The day was the beginning of a downhill slide for me that I didn't fully recover from for several years. Long-dormant symptoms of (undiagnosed) PTSD from childhood traumas returned and sent me into a tailspin that lasted for months. I got myself into therapy, thank the gods, was properly diagnosed, and started treatment that lasted for over five years.
I'm more or less okay now, although I will always have to deal with depression and anxiety to some degree. The PTSD isn't cured, but it's under control. Knock wood.
None of this is the point of this diary, actually, but I did want to explain a bit why today is a big anniversary for me, personally, as well as for all of us. It goes back to what my boss said, to some degree. "Nothing is ever going to be the same again." That's certainly held true for me.
So here's the point.
Not once, not for one second, that day or since, have I even thought about blaming Islam for the actions of a small handful of crazed extremists. Not for one second. There were threats made on the largest mosque in Seattle in the days following 9/11, and a lot of the non-Muslim citizens of that good city turned out to watch over the mosque to make sure it came to no harm. In all of my haze of shock and illness, I was so proud of those people. That was one of the very few bright memories I have from that ghastly time.
So it's been with disgust and dismay that I've followed the stories of the proposed book-burning by "Pastor" Terry Jones, and the growing hysteria around the Islamic cultural center in lower Manhattan. I've spent more than a little time lately wondering how in the hell we've come to this -- to being a country that, in terms of respecting civil liberties and the Bill of Rights, more resembles Saudi Arabia (home of 15 of the 9/11 hijackers, let us not forget) than it resembles the America I thought I lived in.
So, a couple of days ago, a Facebook friend posted a suggestion that I've taken to heart. She said she wanted to buy a copy of the Koran on 9/11, as a reminder to herself and as a statement to the world, that some Americans still respect freedom of speech and freedom of religion, that we haven't allowed the hysteria and fearmongering to change who we fundamentally are -- or at least, who we were fundamentally meant to be as a nation. "Why not," she wrote, "make the Koran the number one selling book on Amazon, just for the one day?"
So that's what I'm doing, as soon as I post this diary. And I would like to invite other Kossacks to do the same.