Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years Later

As everyone knows unless you've been trapped in a 60s-era bomb shelter and can't get out, it's the tenth anniversary of the WTC terrorist bombings.

I'm really not much for anniversaries because I'm not sure they mean anything. Sure, these past ten years amount to one-sixth of my entire life. Anniversaries are human conceits, ways for us to acknowledge the limited time we have on this planet. Things are not the same as they were ten years ago. Everything is different now, and will never be as they were.

I'll leave it to other people more qualified than I to summarize the national trauma and grief we went through. I will say it was one of the worst days of my life, that warm September morning ten years ago. I remember looking at the television news thinking, "This is really REALLY bad." Little did I know what an understatement that was. To this day I avoid looking at any coverage or video footage. To say it was nightmarish is pitifully inadequate; there are no words to describe an unprecedented catastrophe of that nature. Anyone who watched it unfold that day has their own memories deeply, indelibly etched in their consciousness. We don't need video footage to remember; we can never forget.

It's also unbelievable how much our lives have changed. We now have many words and phrases we never could conceive of before. Things like "Al Qaeda," "jihadists," "Al Jazeera," "threat level," and so many more. Air travel has become even more of a spectacular pain in the butt than it ever had been. I used to love to travel so much but now I avoid it like a letter full of anthrax. The Department of Homeland Security was unknown ten years ago. Now we have to remove our shoes at the airport and ridiculously mundane items like bottles of shampoo are regarded as serious threats. Anyone who even looks vaguely middle-Easternish is automatically assumed to be a terrorist, and every U-Haul truck is a potential car bomb.

How can such drastic changes happen in such a short time? There is much discussion on the Internet about the role religion had to play in all this. And the term "religion" includes Christianity and Islam and every other belief system in the world. People are saying that religion is the cause of all this. As anti-religion as I am, I know that is not true. Religion by itself did not do this, but when religion is distorted and corrupted by extremists whose lives are ruled by irrationality and hatred, then these kind of things can happen. People blame Islam for the aircraft plunging into buildings and Pennsylvania farm fields but really, there is barely any noticeable difference between Christian fundamentalists and Islamic fundamentalists. Religious extremism of any kind can be responsible for unimaginable horror, as history has proven again and again.

So, while I do remember that September morning ten years ago, I prefer to look forward rather than backward. If I thought for one second it would be possible to go back and undo everything and get those 3,000 innocent lives back, I would do it in a nanosecond. But we all know that is impossible. For me, the only rational thing to do is live my life the best way I can, knowing that we only get one life to live and when it's over, it's over. I will live in the present and anticipate the future, and remember everything we lost.

No comments:

Post a Comment