Thursday, September 11, 2008

In Memorial

I have a friend who's writing a book about 9/11. Well, I'm not exactly sure it's about 9/11, but it's about depression in the aftermath of great disasters, and she saw a lot of depressed people in the aftermath of that one. She was my spiritual director at the time, and we met every month. 

It's been seven years today. I can still remember where I was and what I was doing when I was rocked by the news. I say rocked in retrospect. At the time I was calm. I am usually calm in crisis situations and only fall apart later. 

The problem with my reaction to 9/11 was I could never fall apart... not in the weeks or months that followed, not when I was finally forced to go down there and look at the big hole in the ground, still smoking. I felt something... horror, I think, when I saw scraps of paper still clinging to fire escapes east of Ground Zero, months after the attack. Last year I actually contributed to another friend's art project with that image... the view of a fire escape from below, with a scrap of debris, the actual debris, hanging from one of the rungs.

Seven years and I am finally beginning to feel something. 

I'm almost finished with the book Three Cups of Tea. If you haven't read it yet, (It's been on the Best Seller List, for goodness sake!) It's about one man's passion to bring education to the poorest and most remote villages of Pakistan. Greg Mortenson was in Pakistan when the towers fell. He'd been traveling to and from there for years, building schools one village at a time. He had first hand knowledge that it was not Muslims, nor the people of those countries who were the extremists who had done this.

I was sickened by a lot of what happened after 9/11... fundamentalists crying Armageddon, politicians swooping down on New York City, suddenly their city, to wave the flag, promise retaliation and justice for this heinous crime against our people. I couldn't help thinking: what about our own crimes against the marginalized people of the planet? Wasn't this act of deliberate destruction a symbol that we were not especially innocent? That somebody felt they needed to get our attention regarding our increasing wealth and comfort at everybody else's expense? But that was certainly not a popular opinion then, and is still not. This is America: Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.

Except it's the white race that's been free and the other races expected to be brave. For the first time in history a black man has the opportunity to become president. If some crackpot doesn't try to kill him. Crackpots abound. They do not all wear turbans.

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