DISCLAIMER: I don’t often write or discuss political issues, and I’m not going to get into many details here. This post is less about politics and more about my feelings of a seminal event in our shared history. You may make assumptions about my political leanings or ideology based on what I say here. I would retort that you don’t have enough information about me to make such assumptions. Remember the old saying: “Never assume. It just makes you look like an idiot.” Also, I’m going to keep the comments turned on but will be moderating against any ass-hattery. Be warned. I don’t feed trolls–I bash them with the Hammer of Irritation.
I thought about writing a 9/11 commemorative post yesterday, but simply could not find the motivation. It wasn’t because I lacked a need to reflect–I just did plenty of it in my noggin as opposed to putting virtual ink to virtual paper. It also wasn’t because I lacked recollection–I remember the events of that day as well as anyone else (though I would add that my story of that is no more, and probably far less, poignant than the average American’s so I don’t feel a great need to share it).
For me, the importance of 9/11 is not the events of that date–but the events of the days that came after.
Immediately after the towers fell, I was struck by how we came together as a nation, both emotionally and politically. Remember, we had just come out of the “culture wars” of the 90s and the contentious 2000 elections where party loyalty trumped everything in our political consciousness. But after the towers fell, I really felt like we could set aside the BS and come together as Americans. It actually seemed possible that we could remember who we really were as a people and be better for it. That, to me, would have been the ultimate victory against our enemies.
But when those towers came crashing down, cracks shot through the foundations of our country, cracks that were widened by fear and false patriotism to tear this nation apart.
They were widened when our fears of further attacks allowed politicians to pass laws that curtailed our personal freedoms in the name of security.
They were widened when our fears of further attack were exploited to make war under false pretenses.
They were widened when our fears of “outsiders” were exploited for political and religious gain.
They were widened when our fear allowed politicians and their parties to claim a monopoly on love of country, morality, and basic goodness.
They were widened when our fears allowed symbols and charged rhetoric to replace actual democratic processes and governance.
Unfortunately, to me, we didn’t rise renewed from the ashes of the towers. We are fluttering heavily, our wings soiled with the byproducts of our fears. Our nation is even more contentious than before. We are a nation less free, a nation less strong. We have become more and more insular and ideological and will ultimately suffer for it.
But I do have hope. Despite all this, I don’t think that the terrorists won. We did this to ourselves; and thus can fix it ourselves as well. But I am a cynical old Gen-Xer. While I hope that we can repair our self-imposed harm, I don’t have a lot of faith in our willingness to do so.
So, in times like these, I just remember what old Jack Burton and REO Speedwagon do when the earth quakes, and the poison arrows fall from the sky, and the pillars of Heaven shake–I’ll be riding the storm out and hoping for the best.