Saturday, 11 September 2010

11th September.

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

I have a theory. It is one I have worked on lovingly, over the years. It is quite complicated, so you might want to pay attention at the back.

It is:

Most people are good.

You may see that the taxpayer really got her money's worth out of my university education. No wonder they brought in student loans.

But really, it is what I think. You may all laugh and point now. It is absurd, on its face; pollyanna-ish and simplistic. I also believe it to be true. The news likes the crazies; the idiot pastors, the religious zealots, the axe murderers. It adores extremes, so everyone gets to shout at once. It is easy to forget that most people love their children, do their work, cook their food, are kind to their dogs. Most people, I suspect, just get on with it, often in ravagingly difficult circumstances.

So when I hear the Voice of Reason, I not only feel as if someone has given me a present, but I also get a galvanic sense that my hopeful little theory might not be so far off the mark. There were two lovely, shining ones today, both of which I read on The Daily Dish, which I sometimes think is saving my sanity with its bare hands.

This is the first:

What did I think about the decision to construct a "mosque" this close to ground zero? I thought it was a no-brainer. Of course it should be built there. I sometimes wonder if those people fighting so passionately against Park51 can fathom the diversity of those who died at ground zero. Do we think no Muslims died in the towers? My husband, Eddie Torres, killed on his second day of work at Cantor Fitzgerald while I was pregnant with our first child, was a dark-skinned Latino, often mistaken for Pakistani, who came here illegally from Colombia. How did "9/11 victim" become sloppy shorthand for "white Christian"? But here is what's been lost in this Park51 controversy: We are not experts, we are victims. We deserve to speak up, we need to speak up to acknowledge the pain and suffering, but we were never meant to be leaders in a national debate. Because the only thing we really know intimately is grief. The only thing we really know is what it feels like to lose a loved one in 9/11.

That is Alissa Torres, who lost her husband on this day.

Here is the second:

One of the things that I most admired about President Bush was after 9/11, him being crystal-clear about the fact that we were not at war with Islam.  We were at war with terrorists and murderers who had perverted Islam, had stolen its banner to carry out their outrageous acts.  And I was so proud of the country rallying around that idea, that notion that we are not going to be divided by religion; we’re not going to be divided by ethnicity.  We are all Americans.  We stand together against those who would try to do us harm. 
And that’s what we’ve done over the last nine years.  And we should take great pride in that.  And I think it is absolutely important now for the overwhelming majority of the American people to hang on to that thing that is best in us, a belief in religious tolerance, clarity about who our enemies are -- our enemies are al Qaeda and their allies who are trying to kill us, but have killed more Muslims than just about anybody on Earth.  We have to make sure that we don't start turning on each other.

And I will do everything that I can as long as I am President of the United States to remind the American people that we are one nation under God, and we may call that God different names but we remain one nation.  And as somebody who relies heavily on my Christian faith in my job, I understand the passions that religious faith can raise.  But I’m also respectful that people of different faiths can practice their religion, even if they don't subscribe to the exact same notions that I do, and that they are still good people, and they are my neighbours and they are my friends, and they are fighting alongside us in our battles.

That is Barack Obama, President of the United States.

And then, because everyone needs a good joke on a sombre day, I give you this absolute dilly from Arnold Schwarzenegger:

"Over Anchorage, Alaska. Looking everywhere but can't see Russia from here. Will keep you updated as search continues."

Yesterday's honeysuckle, in the evening light:


Grazing dog:







  1. Hi. I am a recent lurker but feel so strongly about this that I had to comment! You are not Pollyanna-ish to think this. Most people's everyday experiences would overwhelmingly suggest that the majority of people are good, friendly and honest. Nine out of ten people who walked past a parked car with its window down wouldn't dream of reaching in and nicking something - they'd probably look around for the person whose car it was to say "Oi, mate, you've left your window down." Unfortunately, the print press, with its need to sell, and 24-hour news, with its need to fill, mean that things that traditionally would have got a quick mention, now assume an importance they don't deserve with either hysterical headlines or 10-minute debates. Like with that American Koran burner, who by all accounts is more than a bit dodgy and even if he's not represents about 50 people tops! The dignity, open-mindedness and humanity of many 9/11 victims' loved ones is impressive. But I think, given the chance, most people are.

  2. I have had that thought too. Recently I was out shopping when a lady had her purse snatched. For a moment I had that cloud descend on me, the world is bad & dangerous, people are foul. Then I looked around and a huge crowd of people has swarmed around this lady, comforting her and offering help. There was only 1 bag-snatcher but there was a crowd of decent people and I thought "most people are good".
    The letter from Alissa Torres is so eloquent and beautiful, I hope many people read it.

  3. This is the voice of sanity and of loving kindness, and I thank you for it. Great blog.

  4. Amen to all that.

    I sometimes think I am naive in thinking the exact same thing. But really it's true.

  5. I too am an eternal (infernal?) optimist. It seems there are more of us than you might think!

    It was funny to read this yesterday - I had just finished blogging about how I disliked a crime novel, partly because it's premise was that people are mostly bad ( if you're interested).


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