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Ten Things We Should Have Learned Since September 11, 2001
S eptember 11, 2001, will be among those dates that mark the end of one era and the beginning of a new era. Our culture has not undergone dramatic shifts, but it has changed. Only time will tell the long-term results of the attacks on us as a people and on the history of our nation and the world. Yet even one short year after the event, some lessons and new directions are clear. Ten is, admittedly, an arbitrary number. Think of these as a beginning as you consider the results of the world-changing events on that September morning.
1. We live in a very dangerous world.
On September 11 Americans learned what most people across the world already knew: the world is a very dangerous place. The United States has, in the past, been safe territory. Two broad oceans guard us, and our neighbors to the north and south are unlikely to invade.
Globalization has made global communication and global travel an everyday part of life. Globalization has also created a whole class of what Thomas Friedman calls "super-empowered angry men," who through global communication and global travel have easy access to our country. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 constituted successful acts of war perpetrated in two of our major cities using our own commercial airliners. The violence "over there somewhere" came in the front door.
Because this is a very dangerous world, and because globalization makes the United States vulnerable to super-empowered angry men, we must pay attention to the world. Americans can no longer afford the luxury of not knowing or caring about what goes on beyond our borders. Our lives depend on paying attention to our very dangerous world.
2. The "clash of civilizations" is a fact of life. There ...1