Sunday, September 11, 2011

ten years on

“We are not afraid of death,” the suicide bombers say to show their superiority to ordinary people. But they are afraid of life, constantly trampling on it, slandering it, destroying it, and training children still in their cradles for martyrdom. Observers have noted that the photos of terrorists taken a few hours before they made their attacks show people who are serene and at peace. They have eliminated doubt: they know. It is the paradox of open societies that they seem to be disordered, unjust, threatened by crime, loneliness, and drugs because they display their indignity before the whole world, never ceasing to admit their defects, whereas other, more oppressive societies seem harmonious because the press and the opposition are muzzled. “Where there are no visible conflicts, there is no freedom,” Montesquieu said. Democracies are by nature uneasy, they never realize their ideal; they necessarily disappoint us, creating a gap between the hope they elicit and the realities they construct. They repeat the slanders proffered by their enemies, according them the right to hate them in all sincerity. From the imperfection of our governments, their fundamental perversity is deduced. But we should maintain the reverse: to publicly exhibit our faults is to be conscious of our vices, whereas the real fault is being ignorant of what ails us.
-Pascal Bruckner