It has been 3650 days since one of the most defining moments in history, 520 weeks since the most significant event of my lifetime. It has been ten years since a burning, falling World Trade Centre became the symbol of the Global War on Terror- a decade since the group known as ‘Al-Qaeda’ became infamous for all of time.
As America, the Western world- and every global media outet- commemorates these tragic events,it’s easy to become nostalgic. Many people, even students I teach who were just four or five at the time, like to tell you where they were and what they were doing at the time. For me, as an A-Level student myself, I had headed home early, to promptly be ordered by my older brother to ‘turn the TV on downstairs- now’. I text a friend still back at school, who was actually in a lesson, and told him what had happened. Soon lessons across the school came to a sudden, unexpected stop.
Much has changed in this decade. The BBC has posted a page that looks at the global effects of 9/11, from Afghanistan to Guantanamo. In fact, there are many ways in which the world has been altered by that darkest day. Some say the way we view global politics, and how it impacts the furthest corners of the earth, has changed. Although terrorist activities were by no means a new thing, both the scale and the purpose of the attacks changed perceptions forever.
Looking back on the last year, it is interesting to ponder whether there is a link between the West’s determined stance regarding the ‘war on terror’ and the radicalised conflict we have seen in the Middle East. Many have tried to find links, but ultimately, I feel they are a little strained.
What has changed over the ten years however, is our approach to culture and diversity. America has shown signs of a growing understanding, of maturity and acceptance, whilst still pursuing terrorists whole-heartedly. But others in their country have moved from misunderstanding other religions/cultures to actively seeking to threaten them.
But it is in Europe where the major radicalisation has taken place. The attacks in Norway, the rise of the BNP and English Defence League- all these point towards a growing intolerance in society. For Britain, one could link this to the “broken Britain” mentioned in the summer weeks of the UK riots. What is worrying, is that despite our best efforts, educators are struggling to open the eyes of the next generation
In another ten years, when the archives are opened once more to highlight the 21st century’s turning point, what will the world look like? Will terrorism still be such a threat to modern society (in whatever form society takes in 2021) ? Will we still be fearful of Al-Qaeda, or will they be old news? We know by now that those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it- so if the Al-Qaeda of the future are a thing of the past, will mankind, and those in power, be able to avoid anything like this from happening all over again? History in the making- we will wait and see.