Jacopo Moccia, Belgium

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.

Brussels, Belgium

Jacopo Moccia, known by friends as Jacs, is a bright and energetic chap who was born in Trieste, Italy, and today lives in Brussels, Belgium. Jacs, 24, is employed with Ecolo, the French-speaking Belgian Green Party. He was at the office – located in a suburb called Namur – when he heard about the Sept. 11 attack. His remarks came one week later.

Firstly, I want to point out that I have always been a staunch anti-US kind of person, so the amount of emotion felt here was mind-blowing. The number of gestures (three minutes of silence, cancellation of festivities, fireworks, football matches, etc.) was enormous, and this was due to a genuine feeling of sorrow and solidarity.

When I found out about two hours after it happened, I was gob smacked and could not concentrate for the rest of the day. I rang most of my friends in bewilderment.

Just for an anecdote, you know that a third building also collapsed, a small one at the feet of the twin towers “only” 40 stories high? Well, theUSbranch of my dad’s office was housed there. Fortunately, it had been totally evacuated in time.

The tragedy made me think … the fact that people, going on with their day-to-day lives, whether in the buildings, in the streets or in the planes, had to go through this ordeal is horrifying and terrible. Words cannot express, in my mind, the kind of pain this kind of tragedy creates, and it is therefore to be condemned, purely and simply. What this tragedy has also brought, though, is a different atmosphere, a bizarre state in which to think perhaps more lucidly than was possible before. That people come to these extremes of violence is not even the word insanity, because there are situations around the world that are just as terrific.

The answer to terrorism does not lie in bombing anyThird Worldnation that will not be able to defend itself and thus causing more pain, suffering and resentment. The answer has to lie in making a better world for all. This one has gone tragically wrong, and if the hundreds of deaths inNew York(to which, I fear, we will soon have to add the deaths inKabul) are to mean anything – and if they are to help us make better decisions in the future – we have to stop and think: Where are we going?

The US was targeted (rather than another country) because it is dominant today, but the roots of this tragedy do not lie exclusively on the doorsteps of the White House (even thoughUSforeign policy has always been arrogant, aggressive and disrespectful). The roots are to be found in the way we all complacently run our affairs, the selfishness with which we consider our “interests” or our “countries’ interests” (a sentence which is meaningless and yet used by all as the ultimate explication of any action).

Today 35,615 children died of hunger. There are no echoes in the press, no statements by governments, the Pope is silent on the issue and no one is being prosecuted. Tomorrow another 35,615 children will die of hunger. How many the day after?

I hope, sincerely, that the tragic loss of life inNew Yorkhas not been in vain. I hope that we, all of us, will not counter this insane and unjust suffering with more insane and unjust suffering.


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