9/11: What if?

A CNN host just asked a guest, “does the U.S. have too much of a bunker mentality since 9/11?” It’s a loaded question without an insightful answer because we don’t know — absent proof — what constitutes “too much.”

But that question led me to think about another one: What if 9/11 hadn’t happened? What would your life be like today if it had never happened?

Update 9:49 a.m. Rasmussen: 54% says we’ve changed for the worse since 9/11

  • I tend to lean towards the thought that we, as a country, would feel much less oppressed and would possibly not be involved as much in the foreign affairs of other countries as we are. Sure, 9/11 was an extreme event and our leaders reacted in an equally strong way but some of the language written in to the laws meant to protect us have actually gone as far as stripping us of some of those liberties which we may have taken for granted pre-9/11. A pre-emptive strike (i.e. more airport security) to avoid attacks such as those on 9/11 would have likely been viewed as oppressive as well so it’s sort of damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  • brian

    I think it is reasonable to assume that President Bush wouldn’t have been re-elected in 2004, whether you think that is good or bad.

  • B2

    We wouldn’t have troops in Iraq.

  • Bob Collins

    Just to refocus a bit: Read the last line again. How would YOUR life be different.

  • I probably wouldn’t be here in Minnesota.

    I left New York in April 2002. 9/11 had convinced me that I needed to get off the pot, and I moved to California to pursue a relationship that had been formerly long distance.

    This relationship failed spectacularly. In the wreckage of that, I decided to leave California…and since I have friends here, I moved up to the North Star State.

    Without 9/11…the timeline would be very different. I think I would have stayed in NY, or moved somewhere else in the end. Butterfly effect.

  • jtb

    I would be less angry with where the country is going. I would like to have conversations with people about what is really going on in the world and this country, instead of tip-toeing around the subject of patriotism and being a victim.

  • Alison

    I would have better relationships with extended family. The extended response to 9/11 opened a gulf between the left and right that will take decades to fill. It is hard to talk to relatives on the other side about anything now. I have heard Vietnam did the same a generation ago.

  • JohnnyZoom

    As opposed to large scale ones, like the first few posts described, a divergence in small-scale/individual historical trajectories are very hard to predict, as the histories do not diverge in parallel (cf. the butterfly effect). But I think I could say one thing about myself. I would be less cynical.

    That may seem odd, as 9/11 was supposedly going to stamp out cynicism. But my reasons are quite different.

    Right after 9/11 as I was trying to find a silver lining, it hit me that this would probably be the stake in the heart of relativism. It turns out, of course, that I was very wrong.

    Without 9/11, I would have fully expected that it still would have been around. But in that case, I wouldn’t be so jaded, after having wrongly thought that it (or more precisely, its perceived legitimacy) was doomed.

  • JohnnyZoom

    Other than that, it is so hard to say. For instance, less than three months after the fact, my son was conceived. Without a doubt, without 9/11, he would not be the same person–genetically–than he is now. Perhaps not even a HE. The convergence of all the factors determining that he has this particular genetic makeup, at the time the makeup was determined, and not any other, balances on very highly stacked razors of circumstances.

    Similarly with many other facets of life; they’d all be arbitrarily different.

    But as to how, I just can’t say.

  • Heather

    By now, I would probably have pretty much forgotten most of the students I was teaching at the time. As it is, there’s a class of ninth-graders in my head, sitting in their desks in a semi-circle waiting to get their first graded assignments back from me. It was my job to tell them about the first plane, then take them into the hall where the librarian was setting up a TV.

    Every year on this day, I remember their faces and how they laughed at first, telling me not to joke like that, and wonder what they’re doing now.