Editor’s Note: The essay below was written in 2001 and appears in the self-published book, Through Our Eyes: A Tapestry of Words and Images in Response to September 11. Printed and distributed in 2002, the book was the result of an independent, volunteer documentary project organized by a journalist and several friends. The author’s bio was written in 2002 and has not been updated.
Aurelie Mary, 23, is a French sociology student enrolled at a university in Canterbury, England. This year, however, she’s doing an exchange in Finland, which she hails as a “fantastic country!” Aurelie says in the future, she hopes to work for social change. “Helping people makes me feel happy, and I just can’t ignore other’s problems; that would be too easy,” she says. “We should all just stand together … SOLIDARITY!” Aurelie said it’s sad it takes big catastrophes to inspire unity. She wishes people could always support each other but recognizes we all have our individual problems. Perhaps we should just live a simpler life, she says. “Carpe Diem!” Aurelie was in class during the Sept. 11 attack. She wrote her essay about one week later.
As you can imagine, all of Europe was shocked. Nobody could believe what was happening, and to know that the Twin Towers are gone … it’s so weird, and it sounds so unreal. We were watching TV when everything happened, and we were like, “Is it really true? It’s like being in ‘Independence Day.’” We were completely shocked. Everybody was calling friends and family, and most of us had a sleepless night.
The next thing we were worried about was, of course, “war.” A Third World War????? Actually, I’m quite surprised to see that so many countries decided to cooperate with the USA, since this country is one of the most powerful in the world. I was scared that some would take advantage of this situation to knock the US down, and, on the same occasion, try and reverse the actual order of the world. I mean, since colonisation, the same countries have always been poor and under European (or “white” people) control, or dominance. The USA is the center of the World Trade Organisation, and I guess some are really fed up with that situation.
Also, in this conflict, I think we have to be careful about not mixing “Muslims” and fanatic-terrorists. THEY ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS!!! I hope, if some battle might occur in Afghanistan or with the Taliban, that no innocent people will be killed … they are already starving and living in poverty. It would be disgusting to increase their suffering by making them support the consequences of the acts of some mad terrorists of the same nationality!! We MUST be extremely careful that this fight against terrorism doesn’t lead to a new war of religion – let’s say Catholiques versus Muslims. I’ve got many friends who are Muslim, and they were shocked, too. They support the US and want to fight against terrorism of course!!
We need cooperation and friends, not enemies. I was really sad and disappointed to see that in New York, as well as in some other places in Europe, some people belonging to ethnic minorities, particularly Muslims, were aggressed, insulted, and accused of being “one of them” (i.e., terrorists). If we act in such racist ways, we’re all going to end up fighting against each other … and it’s going to be a hell of a nightmare … something I never want to see. We’re all from various origins, and if someone’s got the same skin colour or origin as Bin Laden, it doesn’t mean they are the same!!!!
The only thing we should fight for is PEACE, TOLERANCE (of DIFFERENCE), and SOLIDARITY. We all have the same blood, don’t we? So we need to fight against terrorism all together!