Another year has passed. Another 9/11 anniversary.
I went back and reviewed what I wrote last year. The post was called “Where Were You When….?” and it talked about a number of historical events that may have shaped our individual, if not collective, consciousness. The section of that post about September 11th appears below.
It is intriguing how much things have both changed and stayed the same. We are no longer in the midst of an ugly election. The votes were cast. Sadly the ugliness remains undiminished.
Progress has been made on the issue of marriage equality though that battle is by no means won. Equality is a binary not relative concept. We are not more equal than we were a year ago. Some additional people are equal, many more are still not equal at all.
The fast-food chicken chain made a corporate decision to distance itself a little from the politics of its CEO. There is every indication that the CEO is still funneling money into any “religious” organization he feels preaches the right kind of hate against those he views as the wrong kind of people. Having the corporation step back was the right decision. It puts his ‘hate speech = free speech’ argument on personal and therefore, to my mind, more solid ground. In an ideal world, corporations would not choose to hate any of their potential customers but, until utopia arrives, I will accept them being forced by the marketplace to hide their hatred. It’s a step in the right direction. I still know where the money goes, however, so I’ll continue to take my business elsewhere. In the meantime, the business in question has opened a new location at a corner I pass frequently and they seem to be doing great business; just not mine.
I still try to respect the patriotism of those with whom I disagree and see them as ‘fellow Americans’. Some days it is harder than others but this continues to be a date when I will redouble my efforts.
I read another blogger’s post today about the meaning of patriotism. One of the points made (paraphrasing) was that posting a flag on ones Facebook page is not “patriotism”. That is true. In exactly the same way visiting the grave of a loved one is not “grief” and wearing a ribbon of one color or another is not “activism”. That said, I like the display. I like to see people make the effort. It proves they stopped, however briefly, and remembered. On this date I like being reminded to make the conscious choice to focus on what we can all be for. There are plenty of opportunities throughout the year to remember what we are against.
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The memories of September 11, 2001 are vivid. It was not that long ago and it changed our lives in ways we are still coming to understand. I was managing a Call Center at the time and one of the team leaders called me to come to his desk. He was watching the news on the internet. It was before the second plane struck so people were still assuming it was a tragic accident. As the news developed it became clear that was not the case. I went around and talked to the teams individually. Some people wanted to go home to be with their kids which we accommodated. We juggled people around to cover. In the days to come we had more juggling to do. Some of the team members had names that sounded ethnically middle-eastern and they were confronted with some ugly behavior from callers.
The anniversary comes in the heat of a divisive political process. Much of what I’ve read today online and on Facebook has been opportunistic at best and horrendously ugly at worst. I think it is a day to reflect and remember.
I’ve made the commitment to myself to respect everyone’s patriotism today. Tomorrow I’ll go back to wading through the hyperbole of the left and the xenophobia of the right. Tomorrow I’ll care again about marriage equality and reproductive choice. Tomorrow I will try again to care passionately about what America should be and what kind of country and world I want us all to live in, while rising above all the diversionary noise about birth certificates and fast-food chicken restaurants.
Today is a day to see each other as ‘fellow Americans”; to make the choice to see each other that way.
America did not lose any of her greatness 11 years ago today but Americans lost some of their illusions. It is worth taking a few hours to mourn that loss in addition to mourning the loss of those who died that day; many quite heroically.