I'll start with the disclaimers. 9/11 is a big deal. Roughly 3000 people died quickly while people watched on camera in a way that was shocking for most of the world. People's husbands, fathers, etc. died when they had every expectation of returning home that evening. That is heart rending, and I respect that.

But I can't help but notice that everyone else seems a great deal more affected by it than I was. So, I've been trying to analyze why my heart and mind is relatively unscathed by 9/11, outside of the obvious reason that no one I know personally was killed.

I had been in Germany for just over three months as a missionary when it happened. I was at the end of my "greenie" assignment, in my very first area. I did not get on with my trainer particularly well, and was having a hard time adjusting. We only had one American family in our branch. Ironically, we were scheduled for lunch with her and her son that day. She took us to a German interpretation of a 50s diner, complete with a pink Cadillac converted into a center table. There were televisions in the corners. They watched in avid horror as the stations replayed the footage of the Twin Towers attacks again and again. I watched relatively dispassionately. The Germans in our area expressed their condolences for several days afterwards. Forget sharing the gospel, everyone wanted the voyeuristic glimpse into our feelings about the attacks.

None of my illusions were shattered that day. Perhaps not all military brats feel the way I do, but I was raised learning how to duck and cover. I was taught biowarfare and chemical warfare emergency plans alongside reading, math, and social studies in elementary school. My dad taught us how to blend into our local surroundings, so we did not stick out as Americans. I went to high school my Freshman year behind razor wire and Security Police. During the Gulf War, I had to get through the dogs and mirrors routine of Alpha security in order to get home from school every single day. I know what can . . . and can't . . . be done about these things. And I was impressed deeply with the understanding of my own vulnerability. Once you have lived through two live bomb threats, you cease to be as shocked.

I grew up knowing that the U.S. was vulnerable.

So when I watched the planes hit the Twin Towers, when I heard reports about the other planes, I mostly felt relief that it wasn't footage of masses of people dying on American soil from E. bola or some other rapid incurable disease. I was grateful that it wasn't a nuclear bomb, with radiation affecting our genetics for generations.

3000 people is certainly tragic. But put it into perspective. In the U.S., half that many women die each year at the hands of their husbands or boyfriends, which means 15,000 have been victims of intimate partner homicide since 9/11. There is an estimated 1,500 child abuse fatalities and 18,000 permanently disabled each year. More than five times the number of people killed in the 9/11 attacks are killed every year in alcohol related crashes. Six times that many die from drug overdoses.

The real enemy is not a few terrorists running planes into our towers, showy and frightening as they may be. The real enemy is our neighbors . . . ourselves.

And that truly frightens me.
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