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.
Jamie Nicole McKnight was born with a huge heart. This caring and creative 20-year-old grew up in Tempe, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix. Presently, she is studying elementary education and hotel and restaurant management at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. Jamie has traveled throughout the United States and has visited England, Mexico and Canada. Her passions include music, crafts, social service – and embracing the beauty of simply being alive. Jamie is Methodist. She was in her dorm room when she first heard about the Sept. 11 attack. As she describes, “Every room had the television on and the doors open by 7:30 a.m.” It stayed that way for the remainder of the day. Her essay, written Sept. 19, is titled, “A Simple Dot in the Crowd.”
The tragedy, which occurred on 9-11, will forever be imprinted in the back of our minds. “Our” includes not only Americans, but the entire planet that watched those horrific images repeatedly signifying the beginning of a battle that is sure to trail. Greg McKnight said it best in a recent e-mail: “It once was tribe vs. tribe, then city vs. city, then state vs. state, and country vs. country … now it is all good on earth vs. all evil on earth.”
President Bush has repeatedly stated that these terrorists are the evil we are pursuing. And it is with evil he plans to fight back the evil he wishes to destroy. But what constitutes this so called evil? America avidly believes it is the correct moral example to which the entire planet should be modeled after. As an American, I am proud of our beliefs and agree that the whole world would be a better place if they were just like us. However, we represent freedom. And with that freedom comes the right to believe whatever you feel is correct.
Every culture has their own unique beliefs to which people feel moral as they follow. These terrorists felt completely unsympathetic for the thousands of innocent lives they destroyed. Why? Because they were following their beliefs, and therefore being moral in their own right. They are angry people because we do not have the same values they do, while we are angry people because they do not have the same values we do. Here is where the battle begins.
Every person on Earth is good. Every person on Earth has their own set of rights and wrongs. Every person on Earth is also ethnocentric. The battle of good versus evil rests within each individual. We are each a simple dot in the crowd. The person behind you in line, the person sitting next to you in a mass, the person driving in front of you … they are all different. However, we are one race: human. Unity comes with the acceptance that there will never be a unitary belief. It also comes with the understanding that we are all a unique creation.
There is a wonderful thing happening in America now. All differences have been set aside, and we have joined together as one strong community. Whereas people once snarled at their salesperson, had hatred toward another religion, or talked behind a foe’s back … they are now one united nation stronger than ever. Other countries are supporting us and grasping that same sense of pride. This could be exactly where world peace begins. If only the whole world could stand united.