Tue June 13, 2006
Commentary: Some Things Will Never Be the Same
By Loretta Kelly
Buffalo, NY – I spent yesterday hanging around with something that I rarely battle with anymore... anxiety.
I wasted several hours of my morning on this feeling. Irritable, restless, and just not wanting to feel like this.
Terrorists were arrested in Toronto this past week.
They were planning on setting off bombs in locations that my husband and I frequent when we visit the city.
There also are reports that they were going to bomb the Canadian community that you can see when you look across the lake from the end of our street.
I am anxious because... well, who wouldn't be anxious about finding out about bombing plots of places you visit frequently and love?
We truly love our Canadian neighbors.
Not once, not one single time, in all the years and years of visiting there have I ever had an offensive experience with a Canadian.
Like all Americans, September 11th shook me up pretty badly.
The Canadian people were quick to offer their comfort and support.
They sent their soldiers when we asked them to, and some of their soldiers laid down their lives for the U.S. cause.
When we visited Toronto for the first time post 9/11, a journalist from one newspaper spent a morning with us just to chat and process what we had been dealing with.
After Hurricane Katrina, the Canadians, once again, were quick to respond. We were there for the International Film Festival, and out of respect for the mourning of the Americans... festivities were subdued and fund raising was done to help with Hurricane Relief.
(This from a nation who has been waiting and waiting for the U.S. to pay back millions and millions of dollars owed for petroleum from Canada).
Everyone has there story September 11th, and our little family has one also... which is not for the telling today.
But, what happened after September 11th to our community was a shake up too.
The "infamous" Lackawanna Six were arrested not even a couple of city blocks from where I worked.
The community spent a lot of time in shock.
I would go to the neighborhood public library on my lunch breaks and police were stationed in front stopping all traffic and inspecting cars.
One of the Yemenite librarians did not show up to work for awhile.
Some people responded poorly and the Yemenites (rightly so) felt extremely threatened by angry people.
Helicopters kept buzzing overhead.
My clients came into counseling, irritable and upset by the commotion and media attention swarming around the neighborhood and this incident.
Even more overwhelming was the reality that some of the arrested fellows and their families were known by the people coming in for counseling.
They were liked.
Not recognizable as potential terrorists.
Nothing like that at all.
The whole Yemenite community was so heart broken over the events and worked so hard to collaborate with authorities to heal the schism created by that awful event.
And now we have our Canadian neighbors getting hit with the same thing.
And the U.S. federal government is cutting our city's homeland security funding in half!
Yes, in half.
We are a prime target for many reasons, and we have very open borders (which I would LOVE to keep that way...sigh).
It's not like I am afraid of some bad guys hopping in a boat in the middle of the night from Canada and grounding ashore on our beach... nothing silly.
This anxiety is all about the feelings of violation.
Of losing something precious and intangible.
That illusion of safety.
The feelings of "getting away from it all" every time we would go to visit our Canadian neighbors.
This anxiety stems from knowing that some things will never be the same.
I have no experience to really hang all these feelings on.
I can only think of what my parents encountered during WW II. The craziness that comes when your side of the world is rumbling with violence.
You just cope... you just deal with it.
We will be going to Canada and, in particular, Toronto just like we always do.
Otherwise, the terrorists win.
Listener-Commentator Loretta Kelly is a retired teacher and social worker.
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