Friday, September 11, 2009

Remember the Victims as People, Not as Victims

Eight years ago today, Al Qaida terrorists hijacked four airliners.

As the world will remember today, two of those planes were crashed into the World Trade Centre. One of them was crashed into the Pentagon. A fourth never made it to its target.

When one watches United 93, one may expect a story of heroism. That is, after all, what the film was marketed as.

But watching the film can be rather frustrating if one considers the ease with which the film at least makes it look like the passengers could have overcome the hijackers.

What instead emerges is the simple story of real people caught in a situation not of their choosing, and how they react to it.

To suggest that by watching United 93 a viewer can get to know the passengers killed on that plane would be an extreme exaggeration. But a viewer does walk away from the film with a much more real sense that these were real people -- they had real lives, real families, and made a very real sacrifice.

As the world looks back on 9/11 today, it will remember those killed in the attacks as victims. And indeed they were.

But it may be even more important to remember them not as an abstraction -- and the ideal of victimization is certainly an abstraction -- but rather as real people.

It's a simple idea, but one that is all the more important today.

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