Sixteen years ago our nation endured an attack designed to haunt our imaginations and alter our collective behaviors. It succeeded. And they won:

It’s hard not to experience a bit of collective PTSD when remembering the events of that morning. It brought us together but it also changed us, and not for the better.

See, the thing is, while heart disease and cancer and car accidents are individually tragic, they are not as exciting en masse. But as a people and a government we should strive to resist the emotional reactions that cause us to start wars that give the scare-architects even more of what they wanted. We should take the high ground and the long view and keep a bit of perspective. That same month more people died in car crashes than in the attack. And that number keeps going on month after month. The attack took years decades to get right.

I was not personally directly affected, but odds are that you were neither. I was in the city one month before it happened and considered going up to the observation deck; “next time I’m here,” I thought.

When will we stand up and say enough is enough? Stop the torture, stop the bombing, stop the hate-fueled rampages. You cannot defeat them by giving them more of what they want.

Is the collective moral and social degradation each of us has had to endure worth it? What have we accomplished?

Do you find flying as enjoyable as you did before?

Will you ever again?

Do you feel safer?

Are you really?

Do you feel like taking a trip to that area of the world and standing out as a proud American?

Had we spent half this past 16 years’ military spend on investing in education and healthcare and lifting people up and renewable energy, how would things look now? How would our veterans feel? How stable would our domestic economy look? Would that part of the word be back on track yet?

Where is the alternate timeline where we turned the other cheek, and can we check in on how it’s going?