Sep 112008

I was in the shower when my partner at the time, Jay, came home after having left for work about 15 minutes earlier. He stuck his head in the bathroom and said, “Terrorists just flew planes into the World Trade Center!” I thought he was making a bad joke but followed him out to the living room, still dripping wet, and saw the truth of it.

Later during the day I drove to the Red Cross office in Taylor to see about giving blood, and was struck by how connected I felt to everyone else out on the road. It also felt as if everyone else felt that exact same connection. Everyone was driving sedately and politely: no cut-offs, no speeding, no sudden lane changes. For that one day, and briefly afterward, we were all truly united; if we could feel that way all the time, without the accompanying tragedy as a catalyst, the world would be a much more peaceful place.

Sep 112007

There’s a vengeful arachnid lurking somewhere in or near our bed, whose wrath has descended upon me in the form of two bites over the last two nights; one on the side of the neck, and one on my left hip. Time to strip the sheets and check behind the wall hanging over the bed. I’d vacuum thoroughly, but one of Aaron’s socks got sucked into the cleaner last week, and is wound inextricably around the motor. Buying a new vacuum is NOT something I want to spend money on at the moment, but what better justification for getting a Dyson?

The venom from the bites must be causing some funky dreams, because this morning I’d won $211 million in a lottery and was sitting in a sexy black convertible, somewhere in downtown Chicago, looking up at the stars. I hadn’t actually claimed the money yet, and was keeping the ticket hidden for the moment. Aaron was afraid that that kind of money would ruin our relationship, and I was debating destroying the ticket for that reason.

Of course in real life I would never be so stupid as to not claim $211 million, or any million for that matter. I’m pretty certain that sudden ludicrous wealth wouldn’t hurt our relationship but, even if it did, 211 megabucks buys a lot of marriage counseling.

That dream flowed into some kind of military/alien/end-of-the-world thing which I can’t remember anymore, but I do know it was pretty exciting.

I haven’t thought much about 9/11 today, or my father, who died on 9/11/02. I remember that I was showering when my ex Jay came home before even getting to work, and told me that terrorists had just flown planes into the WTC. I thought he was fucking with me until I went out to the TV.

Later that day I drove down to the Red Cross office in Taylor to see about giving blood, and I got this eerie and overwhelming sense of being connected with everyone else on the road. Everyone’s driving was subdued and polite (shocked, most likely) and I felt like everyone around me was family. Even stranger, I sensed that everyone else felt the exact same way. I guess that’s what “united” means in its purest sense.

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Sep 112006

[info]_cellardo0r_ made some great observations about this anniversary that too few people have stated in the last five years. I'll leave you to read his words instead of repeating them here but, basically, where have the true leaders been at a time when we really need them? Where are the Gandhis, the Kings, the Kennedys?

I think the second greatest tragedy of that day was the response of our "leaders". The entire world was united with us after 9/11; the kind of compassion and solidarity generated by that day would have enabled us to do almost anything, and what did we do?

We squandered it.

I still feel that breaking Al'Qaida in Afghanistan, and the Taliban for harboring them, was the right thing to do, as did most of the world at the time, but we could have turned the negative of 9/11 into a positive by rebuilding the country in the way that Europe was after WWII, with the Marshall Plan. It would have shown that even though America would destroy those who attacked us, we would leave something better in their place, and provide an example of our highest ideals.

Americans would have done almost anything our leaders told us to do in order to cope with the disaster. We are giving people. When the shit hits the fan, and people are in trouble, Americans as a group give til it hurts. Any number of positive suggestions could have inspired us to rise above those who murdered our citizens. "Join the Peace Corps", was an example I remember clearly from some commentator at the time.

We could have used it as an opportunity to take a long hard look at why we're hated so much, and what we could do to maybe make some of these groups hate us less, if not actually like us. No one just decides to be a terrorist on a whim, they're driven to it out of rage and frustration at enemies or situations they feel powerless to change.

But what were we told to do?
"Hug your family."
"Go shopping", for fuck's sake.

Then we started killing. First in Afghanistan, justifiably so. But had we taken the time to finish the job there, and rebuilt the country properly after taking out the Taliban, not only would we have turned tragedy into triumph, we would have gained incredible standing in the eyes of the rest of the world.

But no: Mr. Bush had a bone to pick with Mr. Hussein, and the rest is bloody, ongoing history.

Thinking about 9/11, all I feel are two regrets. First, the event itself: the loss of life and our national innocence. Second, the lost opportunity to improve ourselves in the aftermath; to shake off our deliberate ignorance and self-absorption, and educate ourselves about the rest of the world, and how better to get along with it; to truly be the idealistic nation we like to imagine ourselves to be.

But now, thanks to the actions of those in power, and the inaction of those who could have stopped them, most of the world now sees us as little better, if not worse, than those we fight against. And that shames us all.

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