How 9/11 Shaped the Outlook of an International Relations Theorist from Hungary
Like in a game where you have to remember where you were and what you were doing at the time of a given event, I still remember how I first heard about what happened in the US ten years ago. Due to the time difference, the tragic news reached Hungary only in the afternoon. I was at home, preparing to go out while the TV was on.
I was 14 then, a schoolkid. I didn’t care much about world politics. I knew the basics from geography and history classes, but I was mostly occupied with what directly surrounded me. I had no direct connection at all with this event, no family or friends there. Still, I was shocked, just as everybody else around me was.
I was going to religious instruction in church then. We spent the whole class praying for the victims and discussing what had happened, trying to handle the shock. We didn’t know any details, only what happened but that was more than enough.
In 2011, ten years later, I am about to get my Masters degree in International Relations (IR). I am not saying that I chose this profession because of 9/11. But for me it was the first step in becoming interested in the outside world. Ever since then, I have wanted to understand why it happened, why other things related to this event happened.
When the US went to war, that was another shock for me. At the end of the twentieth century I thought the time for war was over. But I had to realize that this was not the case. Even so, I still couldn’t accept any reason I heard justifying those wars.
Meanwhile I went to university and started studying international politics. Five years had passed since 2001, and my teachers explained a few points to me. We studied security policy, we learnt about Huntington’s theory of the clash of civilizations, as well as its critiques, we took courses on cross-cultural studies.
We learnt how important cross-cultural dialogue is in improving our understanding, and that we should not believe everything we hear in the news. We should rather pay attention to what the other side says, because in the world of politics there is no absolute truth.
Finally, we IR students slowly built up our own opinions on the issue that we felt had now become far too complex. And we became interested in it: many more International Relations experts now specialize in areas related to 9/11 than ten years ago. Just look at the number of conferences dedicated to this tragic event.
For me, the lesson learnt is that I have understood the interconnectedness of the world. Sometimes we have to participate in something by which we are not directly affected. Not to intervene in international affairs, but to help as much as we can to understand, explain, accept and respect. And to be honest. These are things that we should practice not only internationally but also on our home turf.