It's damn near impossible to escape the knee-jerk sentimentality that poisons the air waves. "Never Forget!", comes the admonishment from millions of bumper stickers and glazed-eyed reporters from coast to coast. Indeed.
Yes, I do remember where I was on September 11th, 2001. I was in my first month of high school, wandering around lost in the hallways in a new town when I heard an uproar coming from a nearby assembly room. What was meant to be a quick peak of investigation turned into me skipping the rest of my classes and staying glued to the television that had been set up to broadcast the news coverage of the attacks. I remember being overcome with a bevy of emotions; from fear to confusion, anger to grief, and all intertwined with an undercurrent of shock and disbelief. I don't think anyone can say that they honestly took the news in stride.
It seems to me that ten years ago today the circus came to town, set up shop, and has since refused to vacate the premises. Cancer-growled carnival barkers sounding more demonic than a Tom Waits album played backwards screaming up a frenzy of fear, war, and death. Whether you subscribe to the party line that a small and determined group of hate-filled Arabs want nothing more than to bring the very roof down upon your head; or the more fringe belief that the terror attacks were in some way orchestrated by the very powers responsible for our safety in order to begin a war fueled by greedy industrial interests, the fact of the matter is there are some frighteningly malevolent entities pulling at some important strings far beyond the vision of the average citizen.
I just think it is time that we as a nation matured beyond the point of commemorating such an historic event with what amounts to a series of Hallmark card quotations. "We will never forget," or "All gave some, but some gave all," and the list goes on. And if I see one more Facebook status update displaying a cute ASCII art American Flag asking to "pass it on if you're a true American," I'm going to be sick.
Maybe it's time we put all of this in the past, where it belongs. I'm not saying we should forget the sacrifices made by Americans on that day, or that we should stop caring about the countless people who lost someone close to them that day. But maybe, just maybe, it is time we stopped letting these memories control our political theater. Maybe it is time that we begin to strive for a better world, rather than spend so much time defending the institutions that have led us to this impasse.
Here's what you can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money that we spend on weapons and defence each year, and instead spend it feeding, clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, for ever, in peace.It's Just A Ride.