The lives we lost on 9/11, and how we deal with it

John Cartier, 43, lost his brother James, a 26-year old electrician who was working at the WTC during the attacks. Soon after he started the American Brotherhood Motorcycle Club to memorialize the victims of 9/11 and serve as a reminder of American freedom. When photographing John for AmNY I could sense his pain, and listened to him rant angrily about justice. I asked whether he was a member of the armed services. He said he enlisted immediately after 9/11 but was promptly discharged once the military discovered his brother’s fate. He said they were right to kick him out because he probably wouldn’t have been able to control his rage. Among the vitriolic statements he made about Muslims he seemed satisfied by the number of “them that we’ve killed over there.” I feel sympathetic for John, and all of the families of victims. And I also feel rage at times. But meeting John provided me with yet another opportunity to see how useless anger and the desire for violence are. I’ve come to understand certain patterns of human behavior, and observe over and over the endless cycle of victimization. In a recent editorial piece for the Times Ahmed Rashid explores the consequences of our anger. “We have begun to ask the question of 9/11 in reverse: why do Americans hate us so much?”  The reaction of blaming an entire group of people for the actions of a few, carving out some idea of an "other," is dangerously irrational.  But not everyone sees that.  And this is an issue that should continue to be addressed and flushed out. Justice and reconciliation can be one and the same.