Ten years ago, I was in fifth grade, so I can’t say that I was anywhere near the mental capacity of an adult. I was someplace between german shepard and dolphin. I’d say now I’m much closer to gorilla, maybe even chimpanzee.

But even with my limited cognitive ability, I still, like everyone else in the world, can read a calendar. And yeah, I know I’m a few days late to the party, but I’m a firm believer in being fashionably late.

What I’m trying to say in my round about way of saying things is that we’ve just passed the ten-year mark for the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11th. And since ten is a nice round number, now is a good time to do some serious reflection on how much we’ve changed in that time, both as individuals and as a country.

I, for one, have finally started growing big boy hair and learned how to shave. I’ve taken the training wheels off my bike and have had my first kiss. I’m probably as close as I’ll ever be to being a fully functioning adult human. So it’s been a pretty big decade for me.

It’s also been a big decade for us as a country. But unlike me, the United States of America has regressed. Our soldiers are battered and bloodied from two wars.  We’re in one of the worst economic downturns of history. We’ve got politicians unleashed and running rabid, sinking their teeth into the opposition without a single compromise or second thought. We’re humiliated at the airport on a daily basis just to get onto a plane. We’re encouraged to suspect one another and to “say something” if we “see something.”

And what’s it all for?

To keep us safe?

To prevent another terrorist attack?

To preserve our American way of life, complete with freedom of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness?

The America that I live in today, post-9/11 America, is a mockery of what it once was. It’s a mask twisted into the most grotesque of expressions. Where prisoners are tortured in off-shore prisons, without any right to due process, without any respect for humanity at all. Where people are felt up to get on airplanes and are arrested for spending too much time in the restroom in flight. 

This is freedom? This is justice?

And the irony of it all is that they take away our freedoms and dignity to protect us from the terrorists who want to do the same.

What we need to do is take a page from Norway’s book. When they were attacked by a right-wing anti-Muslim terrorist, who killed more than 80 people, they did not shut down their airports. They did not start two wars. They did not throw people into illegal prisons and violate their basic human rights. The Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg stated that “extremism will be met with more democracy.”

That is what we must do. We need to respond with more democracy, more openness, more clear, peaceful thinking. There is nothing wrong with loving your country, but there is something wrong with rabid, blind patriotism. We do not think clearly when we are whipped into a frenzy.

But because man is not perfect, nothing man-made will ever be perfect. And government is most certainly man-made. We’ve got a lot of problems these days: the stripping away of our freedoms, the blatant greed and corruption in our political system, the ignorance and blindness of the people being governed.

And that’s not even mentioning the media clusterfuck that happened on the 11th. All of the memorials, the 24-hour news networks, the remembrance ceremonies. How many times can they replay the footage of the planes crashing into the towers before it loses all meaning?

Don’t misunderstand me, what happened a little over ten years ago was a tragedy, but there is a point where one must look forward instead of back and work for a better future instead of lamenting the past. Ten years afterward is well beyond that point.