|9/22/01- Liberty St, NYC|
It's been a long ten years since 9/11, many of the things I grew up with in NY are forever gone or changed. Many New Yorkers, like myself, sometimes forget how we "hated" those twin towers, those bland, overgrown metal boxes that only seemed to get in the way of the view, the neighborhood, the city itself- only to belatedly learn just how much they had become part of our everyday NY identity upon having them so violently torn away.
The entire country was united back then, the entire world waiting for us to respond in a manner both positive and transforming. We had the means, the impetus and the good will to lead, set the example, shame those who would commit such atrocities, and reward those aspiring to create a better world.
Instead we had "leaders" who boasted of exploring "the dark side," so called leaders who instilled fear instead of inspiration, who sewed mistrust and bigotry at every opportunity, until hatred and vengeance was all that we saw, all that we ourselves were capable of understanding and perpetrating. Instead of being blessed with those that would lead us into a new century and a new paradigm of how to cope with evil and criminality, we were cursed with the policies of those whose thinking was medieval in reasoning, and every bit as barbaric in practice as those they were supposedly meant to vanquish. Instead of building bridges to those we had previously isolated (and in many cases violated), we fostered a culture of torture, imprisonment, occupation and death. Our penchant for unbridled force and retaliation spread far and wide, even to a country that the President himself finally and reluctantly admitted had nothing to do with 9/11. In "liberating" that country, we killed hundreds of thousands, most of them innocent, many of them women and children- and in so doing managed to create even more of the enemy than had ever previously existed there! Or as one Iraqi put it, "Instead of one Saddam, we now have hundreds."
|Photos: Stan Banos|
Ten years later we have lost and thrown away a budget surplus that could have taught, healed and built so much of what we so desperately need right here, right now. While contently annihilating the entire infrastructure of one country, we watched our own crumble about us. We spent two to three hundred million dollars a day (if not more) in Iraq and Afghanistan, and were told to go forth about our business and... shop- as those in our stead lost life, limb and brain matter. We metastasized from a country (that at least in theory) decried the very thought of torture, to one that learned to fondle it like some new found masturbatory pleasure for which we would excuse ourselves over and over again. But most of all, we proved ourselves "too big" to admit we went about the whole damn thing, all wrong.
We learned nothing from the hubris called The Bay of Pigs, or the quagmire called Viet Nam (where our legacy of agent orange and unexploded ordinance continues to kill and maim to this very day). Ten years after 9/11 we're all so very pissed- why? Because we were yet again led into a needless and futile war (while fighting yet another) built on the most obvious of lies? No, because the get rich quick scam known as Iraq blew up in our face, while Afghanistan, the game ball from which we diverted our eyes, continues to suck us dry... And now we're stuck with the bill for both.
But on this day of commemoration, let us remember those who died that fatefully tragic morning- we could have done so much better by them.