Sunday, September 11, 2011

a world worth living in

september 11. all over the world, people are marking the tenth anniversary. i say marking because celebrating, that word we normally associate with anniversaries, isn't the right word, is it? like many, watching all of these programs and listening to the radio (which is mostly what i did, because i was driving across the country today), gave me pause to remember where i was and what i was doing when i heard about what was happening to the world trade center on that day ten years ago.

i was, just as i did today, driving. that day, i was listening to de sorte spejder, an afternoon radio program that was normally very funny in a biting, ironic way. so when i heard anders and anders talking about a plane crashing into the world trade center in NYC, i initially thought they were playing an elaborate radio joke. then, there was a second plane, and i thought hmm, they're carrying this one on a little farther than usual. i think initially i imagined a small private plane, piloted by a near-sighted, lost midwesterner, but when there were two and then they began talking about the pentagon too, i thought ok guys, this is a radio joke taken too far. but then i arrived to pick up sabin from her daycare and found out it wasn't a joke at all. but far from it.

i don't think any of us could have imagined how that event would change the world. there has been a shift in mentality worldwide. we are more wary, less open to strangers, more insular and protecting of ourselves. we put up with the most absurd things at airport security - removing half our clothes just to enter the airport. we're simply much more afraid. our innocence is lost.

tho' they say it's the most analyzed event in history, i'm still uncertain that we learned the right lessons from it. i certainly don't feel that the lessons we learned have made the world a better or safer place. in fact, i'm a little concerned that the crumbling of those towers started a crumbling of the world as we know it and we haven't yet seen the end of that crumble, let alone started to rebuild it.

so when on the eve of september 11, i saw the sign above on the side of a building in copenhagen, advertising an exhibition about what makes a city worth living in, i started thinking about what constitutes a world worth living in. i think that many of us are in a process of rethinking that.

i'm still thinking about it and don't have any final answers, but i have some ideas. they have to do with performing meaningful work for which i can see the results (and which do not involve selling my soul). they have to do with being closer to and more in tune with nature. they have to do with consuming less. increasingly, i also think that the key is more openness and less expectations. i think achieving these things is a process and doesn't happen all at once. maybe the events of september 11 started us on this path, or maybe it would have happened anyway.


will said...

9/11 was the first time I've ever experienced emotional patriotism. It was a moment when we all felt a kind of togetherness rarely sensed in our modern times.

That gestalt, for me, quickly faded as George Bush and his minions cynically talked about "everyone go shopping".

Still, to this day, despite 8 years of Bush and the ill-conceived Iraq and Afghan wars ... what I think about and feel a terrible loss for - are the ordinary people destroyed in those senseless acts of terrorism.

Stacey said...

I think this article says a lot about what we still haven't learned... and what we could do to make the world a better place...

Unknown said...

Most of us do remember that day. It made me more thoughtful.

I think we should all do meaningful work, as you said, but also spend some time making the world a better place. If we don't, who will?