Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Thoughts on 9/11

[I originally wrote this post two years ago and have simply updated it here.]

It's one measure of the degree to which the events of six years ago today are seared on our memories that when speaking of them, all we have to say is, "9/11."

No one wonders whether we're referring to a date or an emergency number.

And nobody asks the year.

But I worry about what we're doing with this day. It's being called Patriot's Day by some, celebrated with national songs, speeches, and red, white, and blue bunting.

Don't get me wrong: I believe in patriotism. I love this country and its history and the privilege of being an American citizen.

Somehow though, Patriot's Day doesn't fit with 9/11 for me.

The event most like 9/11 in previous US history was the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. On every December 7, when I was growing up, then as now, the media had small remembrances of the attack and if you prompted them, people who'd been alive then would tell you what they were doing when they got the news. A man of my acquaintance had been stationed at Pearl in December, 1941, and because of my questions and interest in history, told me about his experience of the attack.

But the notion of turning December 7 into a kind of Patriot's Day seems never to have occurred to members of "the greatest generation."

Why has it occurred to us to give such treatment to 9/11?

I suspect it has to do with what we're like in the America of the early-twenty-first-century. We are the generation lurching through life in the throes of attenuated Freudianism, a therapeutic culture of popularized, mischaracterized, and ill-informed psychobabble. We spend lots of time on self-indulgent navel-gazing, asking ourselves whether we're happy and when we discover that we're not, looking for people to blame.

There's nothing wrong with good psychological or psychiatric care. Countless numbers of people have been helped by these disciplines.

But there's something very wrong with the popularization of them that has resulted in a culture that glories in victimization.

This is seen in today's litigiousness in which millions of people, feeling slighted, hurt, or damaged, are suing others in unprecedented numbers.

We see it in juries in civil cases awarding enormous judgments, seemingly out of all proportion to the violations of the victimizers.

We see it too, in the constantly shifting standards of political correctness that have the media trolling for new ogres, people who in the eyes of today's white hat-black hat journalism, deserve to be villified.

If ever there was a person clearly suited to the role of villain, it's Osama bin Laden. He is a genuinely evil man, living a life given over to the devil's work. The movement which he encourages, has financed, and has inspired is one of the most notoriously demonic in world history.

It's true that on 9/11 six years ago, al-Qaeda victimized America and Americans and it will always live in our memories.

But I for one, don't fancy being a victim for the rest of my life. That's why on the evening of September 11, 2001, while most were canceling foreign trips, my daughter and I were among the few that a Delta reservation clerk talked to that day who made reservations for an overseas trek.

You go to the analyst so that one day, you'll no longer need to be under her or his treatment and you can live as a healthy grown-up person.

The alcoholic doesn't celebrate the day he took his first drink, but the day when he took his last.

No person who has been victimized by violence or prejudice commemorates the days of their violation, but the days of their psychological and physical liberation, the moments when hope entered their lives.

This day should be an occasion neither for whining or warmongering.

Leave the raucous flag-waving to other days. Bag the "world is against us" rhetoric altogether. I think that we ought to take our cue from the greatest generation: 9/11 should simply be a day of quiet remembrance.

[THANKS TO: Pastor Jeff for linking to this post. Pastor Jeff's Conblogeration is one of the best blogs around!]

[THANKS ALSO TO: Reader_iam at Done With Mirrors for linking to this post.]