The terrorist attack on the World Trade Centers on 9/11/01 was a very dreary day. In my mind, there is no way to write off the attack as anything less than devastating. It was a season in the lives of many American citizens that led to significant changes in our lives. My brother ended up in Afganistan shortly after the attacks, and even a decade later will be returning to Iraq in the near future. Throughout the past decade, many conspiracy theories and misinformation have come through numerous sources. Some sources purely seem to make up information to try and make the United States' government look bad, and other sources (such as the government itself ironically) have in many ways attempted to give the United States' citizens through the media biased and misinformed viewpoints.

I feel that a majority of the United States' citizens would easily accept that we were attacked by Islamic extremist terrorists. However, I also feel that it is important to question whether it is as simple as "terrorism" or perhaps a greater dilemma revolving around religious (or cult-like) practices. A common question likely raised by these individuals could easily be, "Are you willing to die (or live in a greater way) for Allah?" Is martyrdom to be praised? Is this truly martyrdom at all? By extension, one must consider that martyrdom does not only occur in the context of Islam; but also in a variety of religious and non-religious occurances. We must leave our biased at the door, at least for the moment; so we may be open to an honest discussion.

Before gracing the highly debated topics of 9/11, terrorism, and the religion of Islam; it is important that every individual seeks to empathize with alternative viewpoints, including those who seek to do us harm. In order for one to be empathetic, an individual must be willing to learn about and understand other perspectives. I feel it is a common misconception that empathy equates to acceptance of an alternative viewpoint. In my own life, I empathize with many friends and acquaintances (among others) who believe in different things than myself, but I do not by any means "accept" all of their beliefs as truth. Empathy is essential to begin properly examining and understanding where other human beings are coming from. In my own life, I am constantly seeking something (or someone) to believe in and live for. In an Introduction to Psychology class I took, we watched a short film about terrorists; and I feel this is what those individuals are also seeking: something to live for and perhaps even die for.

I am easily able to empathize with terrorists like these because I understand what it means to live even to potential death for something else. I feel my bond with my girlfriend of 6+ years has reached a level where I do love her and am willing to take the step into death's arms if need be. I am also able to empathize with my fellow countrymen. Those individuals who lost their lives in such a cruel manner and maybe even more those families who lost loved ones and perhaps in essence what they lived for. In many ways, I do not feel these terrorists empathize because what they do is purely selfish: to inherit some sort of heavenly realm based on sexual desires.

Next, I feel it is highly important to distinguish fact from opinion in regards to 9/11, terrorism, and Islam. It is also important to not just get information from a single biased media source. If all media sources are biased, then the best route to go would be collecting information from all of them. In regards to the news, I watch three news stations frequently so as to attempt to understand what is going on in the world in a less biased way. Some people solely rely on talk shows (which are enjoyable, no doubt!) to get their information, but they are almost always skewwed in one way or another. I could examine a talk show host like Glenn Beck whom is openly conservative, causing him to openly and intentionally speak about topics relevant to his belief systems and defend his own view points. I am not entirely writing that off as a "bad" thing, but is is a show based on opinion and not necessarily all of the facts. Lately, many opinions and facts have circulated about the United States's potential candidates. As a first time voter, these often prejudiced viewpoints defeat what I am looking for as a voter: the truth. I wish I was able to know with 100 percent certainty the truth and make a decision based on that knowledge, but sadly this is not going to be the case due to so many lies and pure opinions.

Lastly, every individual should be able to modify judgements in light of new information. So frequently do I see completely biased individuals being prejudiced against people of a different religion, political affiliation, and even race. Islam is so frequently frowned upon and targetted by Western society, but I am beginning to wonder; is it really that bad of a religion? Is it purely violent? If we cannot conclusively answer these questions with a "yes", then stereotyping and placing a stigma on the head of every Islamic individual (and by extension, anyone who appears Arabic) is simply wrong.

I have met several Muslims myself at college, and from what I can gather they were fine people. I do not agree with them religiously, but I am not bothered by them as they keep their beliefs peaceful (as I also do!). After meeting these individuals, I was able to modify my pre-existing judgement about the Islamic belief and Muslims altogether. There is inevitably much more to question in relation to the religion of Islam, but I am able to know that at least some of its followers are not the same type of followers like the ones portrayed in the media; and the few who hikacled the airplanes to devestate my country.