I knew a guy.
It was around 15 years ago.
I knew him for just a few months while working together at a creative agency in Boston, but that was long enough to call him a friend.
We talked about creativity, filmmaking, family, we kidded around and just hung out on location in the west coast in the States. He was cool, had a sharp wit and was incredibly talented.
We also discussed Israel a lot since it was around that time that so many suicide bombings were hitting our civilian populations — anything the Hamas (yes, them) and their cohorts could get their hands on to literally rip us to shreds.
He didn’t understand how we Israelis were able to live with that constant threat of terrorism in our lives. How we somehow managed to take it in our stride. “What option did we have?” I’d ask. “We have to fight terror and get on with our lives.”
He would listen with concern for my family and friends. Much of what he expressed was how utterly far America felt from it to him – and that it was too surreal. The notion of terrorism to him felt so distant.
It pains me, but the distinct memory I have of him is whenever I said America couldn’t possibly stay isolated from it for long. That the world would feel what we were feeling too because terrorism has no borders. No mercy. It doesn’t discriminate. Not even amongst those it supposedly fights for. He just couldn’t imagine it, and I hoped he would never have to.
His name was Bill Weems and he was a decent man.
He was also a passenger on one of the planes steered mercilessly into the Twin Towers that awful day.
I eventually made a 10 second animation with some friends in Brazil for an initiative commemorating 10 years since 9/11. For him. For his family. For everyone who lost someone and for anyone who hadn’t.
I made it selfishly, too. To remind myself and anyone watching, lest we ever forget, that individual lives, families and friendships were torn apart on 9/11, and the scores of murdered innocents that awful day don’t just make up a meaningless number. Though it took years, I made it so I could just do something. Anything.
I didn’t know Bill a long time. But I’m glad I met him briefly, I’ll never forget him – and he’ll always be my friend.
It’s been 13 years now. The number of people being killed in the name of Islamic radicalism, a political movement, continues to grow everywhere we look, read, and live.
It starts with their words. Whether they’re anti-Western speeches delivered by radical Islamic leaders, anti-semitic chants on the streets of Europe, or anti-Israel placards on campuses across the United States. Their words have power. Because words directed to the right listeners can move people to kill.
We all watch the killing, seemingly from a distance.
But it comes home.
To the twin towers and the Boston Marathon in the form of young idealistic men. It comes to Spain and London in the form of bombs on trains and buses. To the Palestinians in the form of Hamas who kill their own people and constantly force them into war. It comes to Israel through the hate education our enemies create all the way to our cities in the north and south via missiles. It comes to the people of Iran in the form of state sponsored terrorism and totalitarianism. It comes to Syria, Iraq and the entire world in the form of ISIS, as they ramp up their hatred, targeting anyone in their path on the murderous road to an Islamic Caliphate — one that will be worse than hell on earth.
These terrorist regimes are content. Not just with their cause but that most of the media is putting the spotlight for all the world’s problems on Israel – which is their goal.
They’re content that most ordinary people still have their idealistic heads in the sand. They’re content that most people don’t believe that their perverted outlook on life truly exists and could come back (once again) and bite the civilized world in the ass. Content that they get to behead an innocent foreign journalist on camera and post it and watch it spread on YouTube and Twitter. Content that they can cruify non-believers, hang gay men in city squares and stone women to death with no consequence.
They’re content that people the world over are continuing like everything is normal and that this is all just someone else’s problem. That we, the world’s citizens, aren’t employing all our influence to do what we can all individually do to help our leaders crush them into the ground.
It’s 13 years after Bill. It’s 2014.
Their killing is far from over, everyone. But the world’s collective silence is still deafening.
Make some noise.
View the animation ‘For Bill’, created for ‘9/11. It’s been 10 years.’