I wrote this message on Facebook this morning, and it seemed to have such resonance with many people that I thought I would share it here as well.
One of the things I have been noticing in the past day or so is how Americans don’t seem to be understanding how much we as a country, Canada, are grieving over the loss of so many Canadians in the horrific crash in Iran. (Or Ukraine, or Iran, or Sweden, or the UK…)
And it got me thinking about 9/11. That day, I was in Belgrade and we were in a meeting to talk about which projects should be funded through CRDA. It was morning in Belgrade when the phones of the Americans in the room began ringing. One of the Americans I worked with immediately began looking for a tv, and it was in a hotel room in Belgrade that we watched the planes fly into the Twin Towers.
We were all in a state of shock, Americans, Serbians, everyone. Our Serbian colleagues expressed their sympathies and condolences, and I was told that people were laying flowers at the US embassy.
But somehow, it seemed to me, the Americans did not grasp this level of empathy and sympathy. They seemed entirely focused first on the personal aspect and then on the sense of shock from their country being attacked. So they were almost entirely US-focused, which I could understand. But it meant that they didn’t seem to hear the sympathy that was all around them – then or even now….
Somehow, in a way, this crash is our 9/11 in the sense of national shock that it has engendered. We are grieving, angry, mourning – but so much of the American media seems to be focused on theories about Iran and Trump and they don’t seem to hear our pain. It wasn’t Americans, after all, who died on that plane.
I heard an interview on the Current this morning in which they were talking about how we were seeing this as a Canadian tragedy, and I realized I had not heard any hyphenated references to the Canadians who were lost. They were Canadians, not Iranian-Canadians; they were residents of Edmonton, of Toronto, of so many places across our country.
I imagine there are Americans who are mourning with us, but I don’t seem to see or hear them. What I am seeing is a lot of geopolitical reporting and a bunch of rightwingers who want to talk about how great Trump is.
When 9/11 happened, we mourned with them. We sheltered Americans; we cared for them. Where is their empathy for our country and its people now?