ICTP President Professor Geoffrey Lipman released this statement on September 11, 2016:
I am not an American. But on that frightful, horrendous day 15 years ago I became one mentally, psychologically and emotionally. As we all watched the carnage that was created by crazy people, doing crazy things in crazy unimaginable ways.
Like the rest of the world I mourned with my American friends, for lives senselessly lost, families plunged into the depths of despair and all the horror, shock and pain that ensued.
And like the rest of the world I got the first glimpse of the immense power of multimedia as the pictures reverberated endlessly, of machines that I had only ever associated with the good things about Travel, turned into weapons of mass destruction.
And like the rest of rest of the world I wondered about the impact on the lives, economy and mindset of a city and country that I had broadly associated mostly with the triumph of good ideas, good politics and good futures over bad.
15 years later I see that in the depths of despair and pain came the greatest moments and the seeds of new beginnings – where shattered lives were pieced together, businesses reopened, buildings replaced and hope became the driver of a new solidarity.
Yes, there were voices for lock down and a new isolationism then: for fear xenophobia and an uglier walled in America. But they were drowned in the outpour of caring and kindness from across the country and around the world.
And that spirit has prevailed through the new challenges that have emerged since 9/11 – exclusion, pandemics, migration and most significantly, climate change – a truly global existential reality. A thoughtful, understanding, inclusionary spirit that has been so decently and demonstrably led by a first African American family in the White House. An idea that could hardly be imagined 15 years ago.
America is a strong country. New York is a resilient city and good American ideas about caring, sharing and solidarity will prevail over bad ones, that are raising their heads in the frenzy of a 24/7 media-fueled realty show called an election.
As President Obama rightly said, life is about the “Audacity of Hope” and that is an ideal, well worth remembering 15 years after the first plane crashed into the Twin Towers.