Aristotle once argued that it is always preferable to suffer an act of injustice rather than to commit one. This is an interesting argument to think about when considering the occurrences on September 11 in the United States. Aristotle was making his argument in terms of the individual, but who is to say that the same thought could not apply to a society as well?
When considering whether or not it is preferable for a society to suffer acts of injustice or to commit them it is important to think about the ramifications that the act (whether it is being inflicted or the society is inflicting it on some outside entity) will have on the culture and subcultures that comprise a society. In regards to the September 11 tragedy and the effects that it has had on American society (and its various cultures and subcultures), it would seem that it is preferable to suffer acts of injustice rather than to commit them.
Since the terrorist attacks on the United States, we have seen a great pulling together of the American people. Immediately following the acts of violence against the United States we saw a nation come together in a way that this generation has never known. People that would normally not get along with one another came together to help a common cause (via rescue efforts, various fundraisers, etc… and to share in the grief of an act of injustice committed not against a specific group within our society, but against the entire country, against every man, woman, and child calling themselves an American.
Political agendas were put aside as the country came together in a show of solidarity that would have been impossible to achieve on September 10 or any other date prior to the 11th. Minority and special interest groups ceased political protests and expressions of malcontent with our countries leaders in order to show oneness as a nation and to let our officials concentrate on the issue at hand.
Television programs were sensitive to provide a sense of solidarity by not mocking our president and projecting a positive, patriotic attitude. Even the entire United States Congress came together to sing “God Bless America” on national television. Amidst the unity of people coming together to directly aide and assist the wounded and help in the rescue effort, there was, and continues to be a greater unity of the American people on a national scale.
Across the nation there have been numerous actions taken by American citizens who have felt troubled by the events that struck their homeland to help cope with the tragedy. Some examples of how United States citizens have reached out would be the overwhelming response of blood donors after the 11th, the numerous charity concerts featuring chart topping performing artists to benefit those who lost their lives, and even volunteers on the day of and following the attack who went to ground zero to offer relief efforts for the firefighters and rescue workers.
All in all Americans will not forget the tragedy committed against them on that day, but instead of cowering in fear (as the terrorists would have us do) have risen together in a response that involves every citizen standing firm and feeling proud to be an American. In contrast to the unity displayed by all the different groups of people that make up American society, what would happen if the United States carried out an act of injustice of the magnitude of that which was committed against us?
Some groups would no doubt rally behind the actions made by the government, but many other groups would oppose the actions. The resulting political and socio-economic aftershocks triggered by such an event would be extremely detrimental to the United States as a whole. Based on these facts it would seem that it is certainly true that while the gratuitous violence carried out on the United States is indeed a gross act of injustice, that in the outcome it would be preferable to suffer such an act than to commit it.
This notion is further aided by the wrath the alleged perpetrators are feeling at the hands of the American government. With the general outcry being for the blood of those who violated our country, the government has responded to the tragedy with a course of action that involves the total annihilation of anyone who would commit such acts of injustice on innocents again. Knowing that the most powerful military force in existence at this time is coming to seek retribution would be a terrifying feeling for anyone who could fathom the thought of justice.
The fact that the people of the United States have come together against a common foe with such passion reinforces the notion that to suffer injustice for a time is far more preferable than to commit such acts and reap the anger and vengeance of a nation that has been wronged. Despite all of the positive reactions from suffering such an act of injustice, there have been some negative repercussions felt throughout the country. Racial stereotyping of middle-eastern Americans has led to some outbreaks of violence and prejudice against people who have come to the United States with the full intention of being productive members of society.
Although these events are unfortunate they have been occurring less frequently since the tragedy as more people realize that they cannot blame innocent citizens lest they commit acts of injustice and be guilty like those who hurt them. An important thing for the American people to realize is that while terrorists can come into our country and commit acts against us, but they can never take away who we are, or what we stand for as a country. It will be interesting to see in the weeks and months ahead what will transpire among United States citizens as our country leads a “War on Terrorism”.
Will the patriotism and unity remain intact or will our society go back to how it was before the events of September 11? Only time will be able tell answers to such questions, but one would like to think that the virtuous behavior demonstrated by Americans will become more commonplace as a result of the tragedy. So long as Americans adhere to the values that make this country great and continue to exhibit virtuous behavior, those who carried out horrible acts on us will only grow more and more frustrated that they cannot disrupt our way of life.
It is also important that the leaders of our society be prudent in the decisions they make when dealing with those who have wronged them. Should the American government begin slaughtering innocent people in lands whose governments sponsor terrorism they would be as unjust as those who slaughtered our innocents because of their problems with our government. If that were to happen it is inevitable that justice would be served to us, just as we are serving justice to those who wrong the innocent now.
The suffering that Americans have had to go through is only temporary, and we rest assured that justice will be served to those who would commit such acts. The argument presented by Aristotle is indeed true in the context of a society. The case the United States in relation to the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11 is a good example of this idea in real life. Throughout the aftermath of the incident the United States has proven that it is indeed preferable to suffer injustice rather than to commit it.