Was it like Pearl Harbor to the residents of Hawaii and the other United States in 1941?
9-11 was a day full of individual stories. A day where so many people came together.
The people who ran into danger, the first responders, gave the public their lives in service that day, and others, much later, from the effects of being at ground zero. All citizens pitching in.
The days after, the faces of missing people were plastered on the fences in NYC.
Families started providing DNA samples of their loved ones when all hope was lost.
We began to hear the unfolding story of the hijackers.
A lot of people joined the military.
America went to war.
I have read a lot about 9-11. There are many archives, transcripts. It’s all a google away. I read as many survivor recollections as I could find, all of which were heartbreaking and riveting. I did not feel as though I became numb to any of it; it was thoroughly painful. The stories of people climbing down a raging inferno were harrowing. The desperation of the collapse, the disorientation of awakening amidst all of it, the human instinct to survive, and to take others with them to survive too.
The problem of evil persists. It is not a simple concept. What makes us both dark and light inside? The very usage of those two metaphors drives so much negativity (or positivity, depending on the color of your skin). The problem of evil has been a complex, ongoing human development. Is there a demonic influencer/overlord pushing the agenda? Or it is the alleged God, who is both good and evil? I continue to search for the answer.
It’s important to remember. Even if it hurts. Every family affected by 9-11 still remembers. So why not the rest of us? I watched Patriot’s Day last week. That is worth knowing about and remembering. I remember the magnitude 9.1 earthquake in the Indian Ocean just after Christmas in 2004. I remember Columbine (every time I am in Littleton).
I found a book at the M museum in Leuven last year that personified this problem of evil in a new way.
They had an entire section of books midway through the paintings, a hidden library. None for sale, just for reading. I read Thomas More’s Triptych with the End of Time, Heaven and Hell (of the 16th Century) for an hour or so; it is really dark. Also a surreal dreamscape.
What if these depictions await us in the afterlife? What if evil is the Divine with its splintered, multiple personalities?
Here’s a sample.
Too much of this can make the world feel very dark. If your internal leveler is not good, if it’s like mine, where the volume gets stuck on high, and the nob controlling the volume breaks off and rolls under the sofa and into the air duct vent never to be seen again, it is important to pay attention to your feelings as they are happening and know when you have had enough for now.
I haven’t made it to the 9-11 memorial in NYC yet. There are many 9-11 memorials scattered across the country – if you are close enough to one, it is your duty as an American citizen to visit, to remember.
I’m living just left of center and I think it’s on us as stewards of our citizenship to own the history, to pass it along. I’m a big Howard Zinn fan, though, I don’t like the traditional textbook version of the United States. We have to own alllll of it.
A college professor once enlisted a technique upon us called I Remember patterned after a book by Joe Brainard. It’s a brilliant book. It’s Brainard’s memoir. On 9-11-01 I was a sophomore or thereabouts. I have the book on my shelf. It will not disappoint you and it is $10 on amazon (or free at the public library --- get a library card for god’s sake!)
I found this from January in my notes.
2018 I Remember
I remember when the vet put my first cat to sleep
I remember saying goodbye to the second
I remember running and running and running.
I remember flying TWA to New York
I remember eating a butter stick from the fridge when I was four
I remember rock climbing and being afraid of heights
I remember watching Imagine Me & You for the first time
I remember my mom’s cream puffs
I remember my grandparent’s love
I remember reading high up in the tree in the backyard
I remember breaking my ankle and my arm
I remember swimming in the Atlantic Ocean
I remember Irn Bru on the beach
I remember Guy Fawkes night and treacle toffee
I remember kissing a boy at the swimming baths
I remember smoking a cigarette with a friend at school
I remember art, endless paintings and sculptures at the museum
I remember castles and countryside
I remember when my girlfriend died
I remember having a baby, having a marriage, having two.
Now you try it.
Get a pen and some paper, or open a fresh Word or Page and start every sentence with I Remember and don’t stop. Don’t stop to think or judge your previous or future thought. Just write it all down. Go until you’re done.