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Sunday, September 11, 2011

"Imagine all the people..."

Vice President Joe Biden announced this morning that "We are the 9/11 generation." Now personally, I like Joe. I think I'd enjoy his company for dinner or a cup of coffee. His wife appears interesting, nice, intelligent, well-read and a damn fine example of what women can and should accomplish. I have GREAT respect for educators, more than I have for politicians but, well, who doesn't? Oh yeah, the government, I forgot. Well, okay, I think MOST of us have more respect for educators than politicians.

Anyway, back to the Pepsi 9/11 Generation. I don't mean to belittle anyone, or anything but I take issue with today and the excessive coverage. Bear with me, I'm not all THAT much of a hard-hearted bitch, in spite of what my in-laws have been telling people. And if we are the "9/11 Generation", God help us.

Yesterday afternoon my younger son, the one who's going for his teaching credential and gets no government aid because of that now thank you very much, asked me what I thought about the 9/11 anniversary hoop-la and yes, sorry, it's hoop-la. Well, it was a damn good question, and I had to tell him "Not much, I think it's ridiculous." A successful terrorist attack on New York and Washington D.C. certainly DOES merit attention, don't get me wrong. In many ways, I think it served as a wake-up for the fat, complacent cats in government who have continued chugging along all these years secure in our borders being safe from everything but poverty stricken Mexicans and the occasional rogue Canadian because of our geographical isolation...let's face it, there's a LOT of water between us and the rest of the world. There was a sense of arrogance, of entitlement, of "we're America, we're impervious" attitude which I personally find disquieting.

It's kind of like those Disneyland freaks I talk about every now and then, but I digress...

Prior to the events of 9.11.01, we wandered in and out of airports as if they were our own backyard pools. We're subject to the random groping of the TSA, yet another subject. The groping, not the TSA. Well, maybe both. The same people who were screaming about their personal space being invaded by a metal detector and a grammar school drop-out with an x-ray machine at his disposal are the SAME people who approved of the "Patriot Act." Now, we travel like the rest of the world has traveled for YEARS. I used to pop in and out of London back in the early 80s, you want to see airport security? Ever travel though Ben Gurion airport? Okay, neither have I but I do know people who have and none of this was initiated 10 years ago, What made people mad was the fact that now we had to live like the rest of the world.

But back to the conversation I had with the kidlet. He asked me why I didn't think much of all this. "Because," I told him, "I saw a President get his head shot off. I saw Martin Luther King, Jr get blown away. I saw Bobby Kennedy get blown away. I saw Medgar Evers and Malcolm X get blown away. Maybe it's an age thing, but this 9/11 thing just strikes me as excessive." "Has anything happened in your life, anything at ALL, that compares to living through the 60s, just in general?" he asked.

I thought about that for, oh, a heartbeat. "No."

Growing up in the 60s shaped my generation in the way that growing up under that idiot Reagan shaped a generation to come. These things affect us, they play as big a part in forming who we become as our parents do. And maybe, because I have seen far worse in my life than those two towers falling down, as horrifying as it was, is why I think we're going WAY overboard today. Black ribbons, three and four hour blocks of programming...if we felt so strongly about this we would do it every year. We don't. Remember Oklahoma City and Timothy McVey and the Federal Office Building that he blew up? And how relieved we were to find out that some nut job within our borders had done that? And we moved on. We always move on.

But today, we're mired in the past. I looked at my Facebook, briefly, this morning, and saw all the avatars changed, all the 'We will NEVER forget!" status lines and I can't help but wonder...WHY? I think I know.  This is fueled, not by regret, not by sorrow, but by fear, and hatred. We're making a big, big deal out of this 10 years later because we're thumping our national chests and screaming "Up yours, Middle East, look! We're STILL making you a front and center issue!" when we should be having a dignified memorial (which, btw, should have been finished EIGHT years ago) and showing the world that we survive and grow and live in as much peace with one another as we can muster.

We should be taking the money wasted on the New York Memorial and putting it into the pockets of the asbestos filled survivors and responders.

We should stop wallowing in past attacks and screaming we're the freaking 9/11 generation and start changing the way we live, play and do business. Instead of searching Google images to find a picture of a flag washed light coming up from the Manhattan sky go to your local 7/11, buy a Slurpee and SMILE at the guy in the turban who takes your two bucks because HE didn't do this to you.

We live in a violent world. It's always been a violent world. The cave men fought and killed woolly mammoths and each other in order to survive. Medieval society routinely disemboweled their enemies, the Aztecs sacrificed the living, Benedict Arnold was a spy, Nazis tortured Jews for fun, more men were killed during the American Civil War than in all the succeeding wars we were involved in (combined), and Salome asked for, and received the head of the Baptist. On a platter. All of these were senseless acts of aggression, cowardice, hatred and survival. Just like terrorist attacks. They're nothing new...we just thought it wouldn't happen HERE.

Well, it did. You want to send a message to terrorists? Don't stop the damn country to celebrate an act of terrorism. Acknowledge it, take a moment of silence, play "The Rising"...and finish your Sunday.

In Hiroshima, there stands the wreckage of a domed building, looking very much as if it was the remains of some building destroyed be fire - which, in essence, it was. It sits in what is called the "Peace Park."

Today, someone will stand there and fight back the tears(and lose) as they look at what man can achieve - and destroy. This will happen today, it happened yesterday, it happens on August 9th and April 20th and June 2nd and February 12th and any other date you can think of. The city of Hiroshima and the collective spirit and pride of the entire country of Japan was destroyed, at our hands. And yet, instead of declaring war on the U.S. (which, I suppose, they figured "been there, done that") they cleaned up the mess, they rose from their own ashes and spent the last 65 years kicking our technological butts.

While we still wallow in hatred they moved on, thus proving that moving on does not go hand in hand with forgetting but in taking history and holding it and adding to it to make for themselves, a life almost as capitalistic and filled with wretched excess as us. We are using the events of 9.11.2001 to inflame. This is a disservice to the victims who died. They died because of intolerance, nothing more and nothing less, and their memories now live to fuel even MORE hatred.

Shame on us. Have we learned NOTHING in the last million or so years? Doesn't look like it.

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