Dr. Douglas Skopp speaking at Plattsburgh State’s annual 911 commemoration.
Photo by Stephen Bartlett.
History shows how easily mankind is bloodied by its own hatred, becoming its own enemy and terror.
But there is another history too, Skopp said, a shining history of human compassion, creativity, love and wisdom, written brightly over the ages.
“If we are honest, in the mirror that is our past we can see both our human-kinds.”
Studying the attacks and retaining faith in order and meaning may be tragic, but not doing it is the greater tragedy, the historian said, standing a few feet from the 911 memorial, the pond’s fountains reaching toward the sky behind him.
Skopp urged people to clear their minds and seek understanding rather than jumping to conclusions that heap blame and “plunge us toward hasty judgment in the aftermath of such cruelty and calamity. Seeking truth means understanding what those we may despise have to say, something that requires strength.”
“Ultimately,” Skopp said, “we might have done something to fuel the hate, and while harm to innocents is never acceptable, we must recognize our adversaries despair.”
“I mean, should we not have seen the consequences of our policies and practices in the Middle East and elsewhere, how we had turned a blind eye to tyranny for the sake of our material ‘needs’?”
In the end, Skopp said, our wisdom must establish an ethically just world in which everyone enjoys the respect and opportunities “we would want for ourselves.”