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seven years later, i’ve moved on

I read a newspaper story today that said

“The world hasn’t stopped turning since the towers came down and the Pentagon smoldered and the earth was torn in a Pennsylvania field.”

Yet for the Republican party (and certain Dems and “independent Democrats”), it’s as if the world did stop, then and there.

Or if it did, they continue to rewind in times of political insecurity.

As Keith Olbermann said in a “Special Comment” segment on last night’s Countdown, to the GOP “9/11 has become… 9/11, with a trademark logo.”

I’m reminded of this as I remember September 11, 2001. I remember the horror and confusion created by the attacks, the anger the generated, and the hope that things would not get worse. On that day, I was teaching a class in Metarie, Louisiana, and it was tough to concentrate on my curriculum when my mind, as well as the minds of all my students, was focused on lower Manhattan, Arlington and Pennsylvania.

As time went by, I saw some of the best of America come forth: community efforts to help the victims’ families, a re-visitation of how people viewed being “American,” and a non-partisan unity of spirit and resolve.

But this feeling didn’t last long. Partisan bickering and misguided revenge put the United States into a war with a country that had nothing to do with the Al-Quaida attacks. Racism revealed its ugly face as civil liberties were undermined and the Constitution weakened in the name of so-called “security.” Fear was used as political capital, to the detriment of the foundations of this country.

And still, seven years later, many people – politicians, the media, victims of the attacks and those who still harbor feelings of anger and revenge – re-open the wounds of the attacks. These people keep looking backward, trying to find closure to a wound that they refuse to let heal.

I prefer to look forward – and I think that I’m not alone in that sentiment. During this hectic election time, I wince whenever any of the candidates lean on “remembering 9/11” as a justification for misguided military spending, detrimental expansion of domestic oil drilling, subsidizing bankrupt entities, propping up outmoded business models, and instilling fear in the voters.

But the politicians serve it up, aided by the waitstaff that is the media, and many members of the public lap it up like manna.

Except for the fact that this manna is no less off-putting than Soylent Green: not the food of the gods, but an empty form of sustenance brought forth via the most foul and despicable means imaginable.

The people of the United States can be better than this. They’re being sold out by misguided trust: in the media, in the pundits.

As far as 9/11 is concerned, I’ve moved on. While I will never forget the tragedy – I reflected on the events of that day during a slow, quiet ride to work this morning – I prefer to look forward, to move toward something better and not dwell on the mistakes and horrors of the past.

If only more people in this country felt the same, perhaps we would be asking the right things of our politicians rather than the non sequitur. At least I can hope that’s the case.

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3 Comments

  1. Nancy Yuan

    I was 4 or 5 blocks from the trade center when they collapsed. If only you could see what I saw that day. People were on the floor with soot and debri all over. I was very sad and VERY angry. The landmark that my family first visited, when we came to the US..the place where my friends and I used to hang out after school, almost everyday…is gone. I am still sad, but no longer angry. For the first time in 7 years, on 9/11, I did not cry. However, I am disappointed with this country and its politicians, for not getting their acts together, for not picking up all the pieces, for not rebuilding quickly enough and being very petty for their political gains. Believe it or not, many family members of victims have moved on (I know a couple of them personally). Now, I am not speaking for all. However, I volunteered for Red Cross and FEMA the first two weeks of 9/11. These families, such tragedy hitting so close to home, they managed to live day by day, and DO hope for the best. Because of this positive outlook, I have new found respect for them, because it takes a lot of strength and courage to overcome.

  2. Nancy Yuan

    For the record, I wasn’t disagreeing with your post. What you said about the politicians and media, was absolutely correct. It’s a shame, isn’t it? In today’s society, you would think, that we’ve progressed (or in Darwin’s term “evolved”) enough to learn from our mistakes so that tragic history like 9/11 would not repeat itself. Somehow, I don’t have a lot of confidence with our government, that in our lifetime, such history will not repeat itself.

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