Friday, September 09, 2011

Remembering 9/11

I keep a journal. Not everyday, but on occasions when I feel the need to document. On the morning of September 11, 2001 I was not at home. I had spent the night at my sister's so that I could drive to San Diego and take care of my cousin's children while her husband had surgery. It wasn't until the next day that I wrote the following:

Thousands of people in New York and Washington D.C. are dead. Terrorists commandeered commercial aircraft and crashed them into the two towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. An attempt to crash one into Camp David failed and the innocent people on the plane crashed into a rural area in Pennsylvania. This is one of those moments, like Pearl Harbor, like the assassination of John F. Kennedy, that marks the ending of a generation.We have a President who is not up to the leadership necessary for the moment. While the country still reels from the events that unfolded yesterday, Muslim fundamentalists are being identified as the perpetrators. The balance in the world teeters and nothing will be quite the same again.

Vengeance toward fundamentalist zealots is like trying to discipline a chicken, it only feeds chaos. People who have nothing will follow a zealot, hoping to gain something. The anarchists early in our own country in the last century were foiled not by increased police, but by the growth of labor unions and living wages. People who have something are less likely to threaten their neighbors, because they do have something to lose.

Yesterday as the horror unfolded, as the World Trade Towers collapsed killing perhaps as many as 40,000 people, I was taking care of J's four-year-old Matthew, while the other kids were at school and E was recovering from surgery on his neck for a ruptured disc. Then, the whole events were unbelievable. But last night driving home, the skies were amazingly dark. There were no planes flying. John Wayne Airport was a parking lot of airplanes. They were side-by-side, wing tip to wing tip. Others were parked even on the runways. LAX was vacant, nothing. 

People are gathering at centers in New York to fill out forms with identifying information about their loved ones. The Pentagon is still burning. Five stories of rubble fill the streets of the financial district in N.Y. and the two towers that I can remember walking beneath and looking up at, are gone. 

Here on the west coast we are safe, but are we? In my 2-story house with more bedrooms than we need, can there be safety when other people have nothing? I don't think so.

I look back at the past 10 years and I am saddened that rather than become global citizens many Americans have become more insular. We deny that we are the greatest consumers of unreplenishable natural resources. The planet suffers at our hands and now that the years of waste and want have come to an end for 90% of the population, so many look back clinging to the past rather than looking forward to a future where we must behave differently for the planet. Americans are acting like the southern aristocracy after the Civil War, we want the luxury we had and are unwilling to accept that it was unsustainable. This year global climate change is impacting food and water resources. We thought that the terrorist attacks of 9/11 changed our lives, but the change ahead of us in the next ten years is unimaginable.

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