I turned on the TV at the computer at a bit after 9 am this morning and discovered that CBS at least was replaying the tape of that day.
Once again, I was caught up in the event, mesmerized by visions I have come to know too too well.
It is one of those things that happen where forevermore one will remember exactly what one was doing at the time one learned of it.
I was home, watching GMA, as we learned that “something” had hit the World Trade Center building. Or there had been an explosion. No one knew. As Diane Sawyer was speaking, one suddenly saw a plane flying strangely close to the buildings, as if to examine close up what had happened. And then the second explosion, and my mind reeled, unable to comprehend what I was seeing.
It went grocery shopping that morning, and didn’t learn until I was in the check-out that the Pentagon was also hit. I panicked then, inside, if not outside. Outside, I was calm, but numb. I wanted only to be home.
We watched, as did everyone I suppose, all day, all night, and on and on through the many days. We watched until we were too sick of watching the same film again and again. It became morbid. Nothing more could be said. It had all been said a hundred? two hundred? times.
Strangely, after a couple of specials in the ensuing months, we avoided further rehashing. We avoided the anniversaries. New tragedies came along, though not as shocking or as painful perhaps, but still, filling our limited capacity for horror. Wars and natural catastrophes of one sort or another were enough to grieve about.
Yet, somehow today, I couldn’t stop watching and listening, as I am now. I am amazed at the calm of newscasters even as it became known that this was an intentional act, an act of war. There were rumors that proved untrue, the truth was horrific enough.
Somehow today. Somehow, it requires my attention. Perhaps because of what has been happening in America. Perhaps it is the hatred and vicious anger that has been both expressed and worse, which has been whipped up by sick individuals for political gain.
What has been a pain in the ass, what has engendered anger at an attempt to destroy a presidency by fear and deliberate obstruction, looks different today. It looks sick. It looks pathological. It is born of sociopathic persons whose interests are personal power and wealth.
Look what you have created, you Palins and Becks and Boehners and McCains, you Limbaughs, Hannitys and O’Reillys. Look what you have wrought. A country increasingly torn internally with hate and fear. Cultish immoral humans announcing the destruction of another faith’s sacred texts, all in the name of their own so-believed superior faith. Acts of malicious destruction of buildings, attacks on persons, venomous talk against each other, based on skin color, ethnic heritage, religious preference, sexual orientation, party affiliation.
They did not accomplish this in a vacuum of course. They had help. People too lazy to learn truth, all to ready to accept the demagoguery of money-hungry pundits. People in love with their own voice and power. Speaking to people in love with the good life, having no time for civic responsibilities.
People too interested in entertainment to think or read critically about anything except the box scores or the NASCAR standings. People too interested in tuning out, and giving into pursuits of the hedonism that throttles us by the throat.
Not a one of us escapes condemnation, only the degree is in question. If we were to honor what happened that dark Tuesday in September of 2001, this surely is not the way to have done it. What should have joined us together, has rendered us asunder. Perhaps that is the greater tragedy.
We have become no better at understanding, of learning, of listening, of being compassionate, of caring, of loving, of being generous, of being tolerant. We have if anything become worse.
That is one hell of a lousy legacy to have to face today.
Do something, do anything, just one God forsaken thing to show that you don’t hate all the time, everyone who is not like you. Do it. Reach out in a parking lot, in a restaurant, at the mall. Smile at someone you would ordinarily look warily at. Offer a helping hand with a package, a door. Let someone go in front of you with less in their cart.
Do something for God’s sake.