Vicious Cycles: So Much Has Happened, but Nothing Has Changed

Vicious Cycles: So Much Has Happened, but Nothing Has Changed

I’ve now reached an age where I wonder if I’ve lived too long. This week we observe the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States. In my classes at Georgetown University, I’ve just realized that I can’t ask the students in my first-year Anthropology course where they were when the planes hit the towers. They were in diapers when hijacked passenger planes crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the U.S. has been in Afghanistan since they were just learning to walk. In my anthropology of human rights class this semester, I am discovering that I need to explain a lot of political complexities and provide considerable historical context to explain the wider meanings of this day in a way that they can relate to. I have to keep in mind that such things as the non-aligned movement, the Sabra and Shatila massacres, and the first Intifada are indecipherable mysteries that have little or no meaning in their lives. So much has happened, yet nothing has really changed.