Daniel Kemmis and 9/11

In Daniel Kemmis’ essay Barn Raising, he emphasizes the importance of community and cooperation, while still maintaining the individual ideology. Kemmis further explains the politics of cooperation and how objectivity is dependent on our neighbors. This is specifically exemplified in the following quote:

In any genuine community, there are shared values: the members are united through the fact that they fix on some object as preeminently valuable. And there is a joint effort involving all members of the community, by which they give overt expression to their mutual regard for that object (p. 28).

The overall theme in Barn Raising is how cooperation is defined, and how to keep the community alive.

Today, on the fifteenth anniversary of September 11th, I think this quote holds especially true. If America represents the community, the pain, sorrows and patriotism represent the shared values, and safety is the object, this quote speaks volumes about the tragedy our country experienced those short fifteen years ago. We all came together with our mutual regard for our country, and how we were going to move on from the disaster.

Americans rallied behind the first responders and families who lost loved ones to show their support during this tragic time in our country’s history. This event, although catastrophic, brought the country together. We were weeping together, grieving together, and staying together. We expressed our heart ache, and we could all relate to each other. No matter the race, political party, gender, age etc., we all bonded over the devastation in our country. It’s a shame that terrible things must happen in order for a spark to ignite a bond, but the second those twin towers crumbled, our country was never the same for better or for worse.

In the post 9/11 world, Americans have added safety into our set of core values. Safety has had a paramount impact on how we live our lives. Airports strengthened security and TSA operations, the U.S. became more strict on immigration laws, and the peoples’ trust in the government sky-rocketed. All members of the community (or the country, in our case), recognized the importance of safety. We trusted the government to keep us safe, and it became our “overt expression” that safety was key. Although tedious, we recognized the importance of preventing further tragedies. Now, fifteen years later, not much has changed. Airport security has become even more of a pain and immigration is one of the most important topics in the current presidential election.

Individuality is important, but I think in order for a country to be self-sustaining, the citizens must come together and form a community. I believe this country wouldn’t be how it is today if it wasn’t for the way we reacted to 9/11 and became a community. The vast importance of surviving the tragedy united the people in a way that no event has done before. Fifteen years ago, our country thought we hit rock bottom. Little did we know that we would cooperate together and show the world that this country is not one to be reckoned with.

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3 Responses to Daniel Kemmis and 9/11

  1. I see your point in identifying 9/11 as a day of unification, or to use Kemmis’ words, as a day when the nation came to focus on “one object.” I differ from you, however, in the analysis of this event as unifying in the long-term sense. For while safety became an underlying value of our society, we suffered through the ensuing wars over what exactly “safety” meant in the first place. Indeed, we suffered from Kemmis’ assertion that an inability to find common ground is “to a certain extent, a problem of language.”

    Indeed, since 9/11 the issue of language pervades our politics, demonstrating that while 9/11 was an opportunity to begin the politics of cooperation, we did not have the “practice” to capitalize effectively on that opportunity. Indeed, the primary motivator was fear and necessity in the ensuing wars and passing of immensely controversial legislation; once that period passed, the “politics of cooperation” were no longer sustainable, and we saw a re-commitment to the “first language of individualism” in which all values become subjective and standards of excellence are non-existent.

    One must wonder whether such incidents can contribute to a more united polity without addressing the fractious elements of modern society that allow us to live such independent lives.

  2. mnjacks1 says:

    This was an interesting take on the reading and your ideas around the two flowed well throughout the post. You were able to relate Kemmis’ ideas of community and cooperation to an event everyone knows, 9/11. Anyone could stumble upon this blog and be able to grasp the main themes in “Barn Raising” just from their knowledge of 9/11. I agree with everything you said. Our country came together over this tragic event. I will say, however, that it’s a shame that it takes such an event for us to all put our differences aside for the greater good. There really couldn’t have been a better time for this post, given the fifteen year anniversaryl

  3. moarmouat says:

    I really enjoyed this post. I really liked how you were able to tie Kemmis directly to 9/11. Your points really do show that without cooperation, such a result may not have been attainable. Because we grieved together, we were able to put all our differences aside to reach one common goal. You really highlighted the main themes in “Barn Raising.” It is a shame that community and cooperation only came after tragedy, but it has prevented like tragedies from occurring! Which exemplifies the importance of community and cooperation in a society!

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