9/10 - 9/11 - 9/12... 3 different attitudes altogether. The first represents an America that had never seen horror on its shores due to such malicious and heinous tragedy (of course, there was World Trade Center 1, the Alfred P. Murrah Building, Wounded Knee, but you know what I mean). The second date, 9.11, need not be elaborated on since many of us have our memories of that day (though in 16 years, a lot more people exist who have no memory of that day since they were too young too process it). There are things we remember (buildings falling) and things we remember seeing afterward (bodies falling out of windows). There is a vision in the dusty haze, and there is a voice on the megaphone stating how government can still hear you while another local government honors the victims at funerals every day. For this, they brought us together until “mission accomplished” became a rallying cry.
For that, the 9.12 attitude of who we became after the collapse is still present with us.
After this day, we couldn't hide our heads in the sand. We had to do something, which included ending the culprits as soon as possible (May 2, 2011, with the Miley Cyrus soundtrack on for the biggest of the criminals, though the 2nd biggest was March 1, 2003, for those keeping score). That said, we still fight that war today (2,403 casualties to this date with more fighting and casualties to come). We still are mopping up and propping up in Iraq and continuing something or other in Syria as we consider making our war in Afghanistan one of mercenaries. We have threats of North Korea and Venezuela as well as unresolved issues with a nuclear Iran. We’ve also had issues over situations in Libya and Egypt. It’s like we’re in for something new every day with the reactions we and the world have had to that Indian summer day.
As for where we stand about this news, SOME DAYS WE LIKE the legislation and planning as well as the Navy SEALs doing what they do best (and let me say, I've got mad props for those people and what they do). THEN THERE'S OTHER DAYS when our attitudes have changed on what we used to like. Attitudes toward bombing countries back to the Stone Age or passing the Patriot Act, are not so simple for our isolationist / libertarian / conservative Edward Snowden realities. On that not, Sean Hannity has done his best to convince us WE DON'T LIKE those realities anymore. So yeah, our scorekeepers simply tell us to follow or growl, and we do, just like in 1984 where Oceania is or isn’t friends with Eurasia on that given day. Just like in fiction, reality seems to reflect the fictional nature of this partisan beast. As a result, this country is way more divided than ever with 2 diametrically opposed groups ready to divide themselves off from the other. I wake up, and I wonder how we've ever gotten to a point where we let the Internet trolls on the left and right make our decisions for us.
In this war, we got our heroes. Todd Beamer said, “Let’s roll.” Marcus Luttrell was a lone survivor. Jessica Lynch was a POW. Pat Tillman gave up a huge football salary to be an Army Ranger. A small contingent of men won the Medal of Honor. We applauded, and then a new reality happened for some of them (Lynch’s actual situation / Tillman’s death from friendly fire and the cover up, for instance).
We just never saw it the same again, and yeah, things changed. People stopped paying attention and just kept up with the Karadashians.
Ever since the attack, I always wondered what would possess someone to plan a suicide attack like that. Even more than that, I wondered how so many men (19) would logistically plan and fulfill the "responsibilities" that they had toward participating in a suicide mission against innocent human lives. Maybe it’s the educator in me, but I just felt that knowing this could help us eliminate the situation in the future. Maybe it's the human in me, but I just can't see how someone could harbor that much hate for that long of a time. Then again, unlike those people, I'm not a sociopathic freak and existential threat to mankind who is bent on complete domination. Well, I hope I'm not, though some people might find me to be the spawn of Satan for other things that I accept or don't accept regarding my tolerance of people's rights to be themselves in their lives that don't hurt others to live as they want to live.
Sixteen years later, I still don't know, but the horrific event’s effects to the economy, the airline industry, the never-ending grudge to fulfill Toby Keith’s mantra (as opposed to Alan Jackson’s reflections), and the partisan divide coupled with the inability for our country to leave the situation scares me because it will fulfill the educated reality of George W. Bush’s “war without end” promise (though it might have played differently had we not gone to Iraq).
Since that day, we’ve given a lot of money, effort, and lives to continue a situation without a definite goal. Maybe that’s because we don’t know what our goal should be. Maybe it’s because we’re scared of nation building. Perhaps, it’s because America doesn’t have the stomach for seeing General Sherman march to the sea all over again. Maybe it’s because we don’t want this thing to turn into the Crusades again. Who knows why it is? The reality is that we’re here, and in hindsight, just like every other war, politicians get attacked for saying long war (see also the Civil War's political casualties). Bush definitely understood that even if he didn’t understand the fear of commitment Americans had to his Crusade.
As I ponder this today in our Brave New World, I think about North Korea and their threat to detonate an electro magnetic pulse over the US (via hydrogen bomb) in retaliation for oil sanctions we might inflict on them, and I wonder what the heck has happened to this world. I think about what would happen to an America where computers were fried and unworkable en masse (I’m thinking life like the Walking Dead without zombies, but just as bad). I think about how we’d respond to that, and yes I know, the news is fear-mongering (especially when it's picked up by the extreme right or left) and Kim Jong Un might not have this power, but… But I think of what could happen to South Korea, Japan, and Guam if a man who is only liked by Dennis Rodman goes berzerk. I wonder if China would stop it to keep getting paid by their favorite trade partner. I wonder what Russia would do to escalate it since their presence in the United States’ foreground has been majorly changed since Wikileaks and their Trump dealings.
I wonder what would happen in Trump America if we went from fantasy football to the draft and able-bodied soldiers in waiting had to ask, “What the heck just happened? Why are you drafting me?” (since it’s clear that many people don’t follow the news except entertainment and sports on Facebook’s trending column).
And all this stuff bothers me since we live in a country facing Equifax fallout, 3-4 different hurricanes at once, a presidency that wants to legislate without Congress's input almost every day on things we need to get rid of or add into the system based on the fact that they were enacted by the last guy.
I think about all of this, and I go back to reflecting on a few events that occurred, though none of them ending up in a history textbook.
The first is from an interview that Wilco’s lead singer Jeff Tweedy had where he talked about playing with his toddler son instead of watching the news on 9/11. It wasn’t that he didn’t care about the power and the impact of the moment; it’s just that he wanted more time with 9/10’s innocence before plunging into 9/12. It was such a human thing to do, and all things considered, it was so much better than just staring at the news and the bottom ticker 24/7 (at least until the Onion and South Park came along and truly spoke about what we were all thinking).
The second event is my parents’ 47th wedding anniversary. In many ways, it’s totally unrelated to 9/11 stuff except that it happened on 9/12 and their anniversary airline flight and trip was cancelled due to the no flights going in or out mandate. I think about their anniversary today, and I realize that in the end, life is about love, happiness, family, and the good life. Not every day is a clown party, but when we learn to accept one another for the good, bad, and indifferent, we have the potential to do and be our best since we are a like-minded collective (even if we're different in so many other ways). I think about that and realize that, yeah, we can hold our grudges, but we also have the opportunity to find ways to be better with what we have learned throughout our years. This isn’t saying that some things aren’t worth fighting for and defending (this is definitely true and we really do need to get rid of Al Qaeda and ISIL), but in the end, we need to see that there are also values and everyday life that is also worth defending. If all we see is the opportunity to fight people we've always looked upon as heathens, we’re missing the truth about what makes our country so great.
I think of the words of love and living and purpose with regard to religion, too. There's a lot of great stuff out there when we're not choosing to be holier than thou or asking for coming out on top via the aid of a "please let me" selfishness prayers (and not all prayers are selfish, but this variety are). However, for some people, this isn't true. For these people, Christianity is all about a “snuff film” (be it The Passion of Christ or the obsession with Jesus’s bloody death to impress upon themselves and others a code of living). Now I in no way claim to speak for a religion (since I'm in no way capable or interested in that), but it’s like we forget the words of the living Jesus or the possibility of resurrection, choosing instead to focus on instruments of torture and days of brutality instead. And yes, the crucifixion is a big part, but what's more important is who that man was (at least if you claim to subscribe to any of these groups who fall under the Christian umbrella or buffet).
I think back to a Christian day care center where I helped a young boy who had Autism, and how one of the workers would show his kindergarten age classmates miniature mockups of the nails (which were part of some game). I couldn’t see what good it would do them to contemplate this torture, but I held my tongue (I like working and making $ to pay my bills) as the 60-something woman explained what Christ went through for us and them, even though they were 5 or 6 and didn't need these nightmares to understand God's ways and love.
I think about this today, and I wonder where making a better world and sharing love and happiness for this time on earth are. I think about people who say that good deeds alone aren’t enough to get in good with the big G. I contemplate that and I think about “grudges” and how people just want to fight and hate and divide themselves off from others who can’t get with their politics and theology. I contemplate that way of life, and I just can’t accept it at all.
And I think about how 9/11 just exacerbated this whole situation.
This brings me back to our 9/12 attitudes on 9/11 or pretty much anything that represents that moment of great change. As this is a Parkinson's blog, I can reflect this attitude to that. For instance, if I think about my day after diagnosis approach to Parkinson’s. I can wake up miserable or I can make a better world for me and all others with my predicament. I can hold a grudge against PD, or I can choose to live life. If I think of 9/11, I can think that we can eliminate evil to create a better world, or I can carry out more wars with no path to victory or fulfill vile, racist sentiments. On a smaller scale, I can hold my daily life's grudges against individuals and this can lead me to hating and hurting others with my thuggish mentality, or I can work to solve my problems like an adult so all people can just get over and through it. In the end, I can look to my life’s philosophy, and I can shove its exclusivity and violence down people’s throats with the threat of some real or metaphorical Hell, or I can take its living tenets to make a better life for me and others (in this, accepting Christ’s teachings instead of just saying that I accept God in a moment of “checking the box” and my allegiance to him, without good deeds, is more than enough).
That said, here on 9/12, I’d rather focus on what goes into making a 47-year relationship work than focusing on how someone upset someone else 36 years ago. Sixteen years after 9/11, I don’t need to watch a historic plane crash to feel for tragic loss of the victims (those 2977 people are very real to my sense of history and humanity). That said, those events are past. If we haven’t solved these issues in 16 years, what difference is 1 to 100 years going to make? We need more Wilma Derksen's out there than angry thugs.
If you’re still here and not offended and / or praying for my soul, I’ll sum it up in 4 quotes and be gone as you reflect on what these can mean to you.
1) Love is a good thing (ME!).
2) THE BIBLE
3) (CARL SAGAN)