Saturday, September 11, 2004

Making a Mountain Out of a Tragedy

For the past few days I’ve been ill, hence my lack of presence on the blog. I’m not alone: something’s going around on campus. Most people think it’s a bug or a virus or some other biological phenomenon. I think it’s this.

September 11 left a scar on all of us, that’s true. But I’m tired of hearing the same sob speeches, the same stories about the victims. I swear in another few years, I will have seen the families of every victim of the tragedy. My sympathy goes out to them all but our constant obsession with the tragedy is pointless and demeaning. (Paradoxically, we have yet to have a better name for it than the date it took place on.)

I’d hate to break it to everyone but the attacks were not the worst thing to happen in the history of the world, they weren’t even the worst thing to happen in the history of the country, and they certainly are not the worst thing going on right now. I’m all about remembering the victims but when that remembrance adds up to nothing more than recalling the personalities of the victims and using the service for political gain, it becomes cheap and betrays everything this country stands for.

The America I know has perspective and looks forward. We should know better than to call the former Twin Towers site after the point of impact of the nuclear bomb. We should know better than to allow the constant bickering about the site which only results in an ugly memorial. We should know better than not let the families of the victims to imply that the world should change for them: in the building site (because the memorial isn't "big enough"), the compensation (also not "big enough"), the politics of the War on Terror (not doing "enough") and anything vaguely connected with the attacks. We should know better than to name the new Trade Center something as corny as “Freedom Tower.”

Again, my heart goes out to them but it doesn’t go out any more to anyone else who have lost a loved one. More people have died from drunk drivers, cancer, AIDS and murders than from those of the attacks. It’s only because the 9/11 victims died in such a stunning way do we honor their memories en masse. But they are no more important than those who died from other causes and the families of those victims don’t demand monuments or holidays or monetary compensation or revenge in the name of their loved ones. Why? Because the loved ones of those victims lack the hype around their own personal tragedies and, therefore, gain something very important: perspective.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Feel better soon, David.