Well the world didn’t end yesterday, the terrorists are holding their breath, the world shouldn’t however, something will happen again. ’nuff said.
Last week I asked myself a question. Would I be doing what I’m doing today if 911 hadn’t happened? It’s possible, but I think that it made me curious to learn more about the reasons behind, and since ignorance is the order of the day, I’ve been trying to swim against the tide.
I now have several Muslim friends, but that wasn’t the reason I started doing volunteer work in a predominately Muslim neighbourhood. It simply felt like the right thing to do, and I also wanted to come to terms with my limitless tolerance, that my friends criticised me of having, calling me naïve and even worse names.
One of the most important things that has happened as a result of my work as a tutor in Mjølnerparken, is that my friends no longer can claim that I don’t know what I’m talking about.
A few weeks after I started as a tutor in Mjølnerparken, I went on a trip to New York. In 2004 I travelled a lot, and most of the times I had a mission. The actual reason I went to New York, was to attend one of the Ladies First Tour dates, but on the night I arrived, I first went to a great musical, and even though it was late, I immediately decided to head downtown.
After a 30 minute walk, I’m obviously not scared – this being after midnight, and I’ve never been to New York before – was standing at Ground Zero at around 1 am, being the only human being around, but probably the most surveilled person on Earth, just looking around saying: “Det er så WTC sitet…Et stort hul i jorden som man kan se” “So that’s the WTC site…A huge hole in the ground”.
It was immediately clear to me that my trip to New York, was much more a pilgrimage to visit the place where it all started, than it was about attending the Ladies First concert (which was great with performances from Missy Elliott, Beyoncé and an impressive Alicia Keys).
Like I wrote several years ago, I find it amazing that there was so little damage. Yes the hole is huge, but the WTC towers were so immense that it’s really a miracle, that a huge part of lower Manhattan wasn’t destroyed, when the towers collapsed. This fact is part of the fuel for several conspiracy theories, and that’s understandable.
One of the most important lessons I learned during my visit to New York, was that the New Yorkers wasn’t exactly suffering, like I wrote yesterday. Another thing I felt on my body was the fact that the war on terror is also about revenge, and that New Yorkers seem quite paranoid.
I felt the paranoia when I went far out in the suburbs to attend the Ladies First concert, basically being the only white person in a venue with something like 5.000 people of colour, might not have been the smartest thing in the world to do, walking home through projects, picket-fenced homes and deserted shopping mall parking lots, was down-right stupid. There are no pedestrians nor street signs in a New York suburb, and I though that locating a train station would be easy, it wasn’t. Working back and forth on the outskirts of the city, I felt the eyes watching everywhere. You know, I even tried to hitch a ride when I was trying to reach the venue an ice-rink..No I was definitely not in Kansas anymore.
So am I doing what I’m doing because of 911? I’m not sure, but it most likely came into play on the subconscious level, because my work in Mjølnerparken wasn’t something that I was shopping actively for. I actually didn’t really grasp the concept of volunteer work until I was actually doing it.