Sunday, September 11, 2011

Too soon.

A few days ago I posted on facebook that I intended to miss as much of the 9/11 commemorative activity as possible.  I got a fair number of "Yeah, me too" responses.  Here I am, writing about it anyway.

I've never liked tragedy-anniversaries, but I honestly do understand their importance.  Something terrible happens.  It rips us apart.  Some events require recovery, others need both recovery and assimilation of a new reality, and either way, take a lot of time.  As I heal, I mark that healing : how a year later it's still painful but life is renewing; how 5 years later it's a scar that will always be part of me and in some ways makes me better, more compassionate, more grateful for what's good.  Ten years later, I've survived, grown, hopefully built something good out of what it taught me.

Regarding 9/11, that's crap.  The wound is still raw, the issues still unresolved, and whatever progress in getting-past-it usually comes in a year, or 5 or 10, feels like it hasn't even bloody started yet.

On the contrary, its siren has kept wailing through every day of these ten years.

So - the dialog kind of goes like this:

    "Never forget!"
    "Will you LET me forget?!"
    "See?  You want to!  America-hater!"

No, I don't want to forget.  I want us to move beyond, and I feel like we aren't.  Anniversary rituals seem like something that should come after that.

I'm using "I feel" a lot and that's because that's all it is, my feelings.  It's unquantifiable, and impossible to pass along to anyone else who doesn't feel the same way.

The film footage never stops running.  Not a day goes by that someone does not evoke 9/11 because it's a direct cause of an action, a policy, a debate of the day.

There are those on the one side who say that this is what makes the particular enemy that attacked us so vile - its relentlessness, its determination to exterminate free, democratic western society, so that the conflagration it starts never ends.

And on the other side, there's the feeling that the vilest SOBs of all have exploited the event for perpetual-war mongering and the profits derived therefrom, silencing questions with sneers about "peace at any price" and hating America and cowardice.

I realize that almost no one takes one or the other of those views exclusively.  Most of us see some degree of each going on, even if we disagree about which predominates.

But in either case, 9/11 has barely gotten anywhere near as far, in its process, as a commemoration usually marks.  Anniversaries revisit events precisely because the event is slowly transforming from open bleeding to scar tissue.

Mulling it over, I realize that something in me rebels at letting profiteers and opponents of all non-Christian faiths whip us all up again in a rush of anger/grief/fear which they're just waiting to exploit again.  "9/11 fatigue" might be legitimate on any other day of the decade but this one, and to ignore the day is to pretty much hand it over to the exploiters. It's vital to take it back and give its sole ownership to those who died and who performed stunningly heroic deeds that day.

We need to honor them, but it seems so much like we've all done it every day of this endlessly fresh conflict.

You revisit an event because you've moved away from it.  This one, we pull forward with us, day by day, and I'm having a whole bunch of trouble finding a 10-year marker in the rubble of discord that's not only never been cleared away, but that we keep adding to.


Catherine said...


ronnie said...

I couldn't agree more.

I am currently listening to the only 9/11 coverage I will be partaking in today: Cross-Country Checkup, a national CBC Radio call-in show, which is broadcasting from the small town of Gander, NL, where thousands of diverted American and other air passengers were welcomed with open arms when US air space was closed that day.

It is a celebration of small acts of kindness in the face of massive evil, and of the enduring friendships that were formed that are warmly kept to this day.

Something hopeful, at least.

Sherwood Harrington said...

Thank you for giving words to my feelings.

Mike said...

Me, too.

I'm particularly offended by how little sacrifices anyone (here) has made since, with the exception of the young men and women who serve in the armed forces and have been ruthlessly deployed again and again and again.

No taxes to pay for it, no rationing, no restrictions on the manufacturing of new cars or appliances, none of the things that Americans willingly went through in the wake of Pearl Harbor.

Just unfurl a giant flag on the ball field, play Taps, have a moment of silence and then resume the bread and circuses.