Today is 9/11 and I am in Washington DC, the political center of the greatest country in the world. Yesterday I had the opportunity to hear the story of Keni Thomas, one of the Rangers who was involved in the Blackhawk Down incident. A truly moving individual, and I highly suggest his new book.
This place (city and country) has changed significantly in the past decade. I will ignore the politics side of the equation to focus on the toll at home.
Literally hundreds of billions of dollars have been lost because of the actions of the few on that day. Not just the physical destruction to NYC and the Pentagon, nor even the added cost of the war. How much has been spent on hiring TSA people? How much time has been lost standing in lines or filling out extra paperwork? The lost efficiency has been estimated at over one half of a percent of annual GDP growth. The equivalent of somewhere in the neighborhood of ten million jobs.
As a capitalist it bothers me. But as an American I understand. Yes, I think that the TSA front line people can be ludicrous. Yes, I think that we need to focus on non-military solutions to rectify some of the underlying structural problems that lead to others hating Americans, and we as a Nation are not without fault for how other perceive us. But in the end there are some bad people out there that want to destroy anything that threatens their view of the world and their power, and they are willing to kill anyone to promote their world view. And so we have had to change what we do fundamentally to deal with it.
Americans have been too casual and bubble wrapped for a while, and now we see that the world leader must be part of the world. And as Keni Thomas said, leadership is not rank, it is example.
So America, today on this tenth anniversary of 9-1-1 (nine one one as opposed to nine eleven, for it was truly a call for help) ask what can you do to help lead this country back to prominence, not through military might or economic power but by being the beacon of hope and excellence and integrity that our country was founded on. Set the example, model the ideals and behaviors that we learned about as children. Do the right things so that others can know what the right things are.
Re-embracing the American ideal on all levels is the way for America to remain strong and vibrant and once more become the light of hope in a darkening world.