Sunday, September 10, 2006

9/11 Was Only The Start

The twin towers of the World Trade Centre fell five years ago tomorrow, as if you all didn't know that. I just lit a pillar candle to remember the dead.

The attack on the towers was the most frightening moment in modern political history. I remember receiving a call from a relative telling me a plane had gone into one of the towers. I was at work but on my own, so I went into the tv room to switch on the telly, put BBC 1 on as most English people do in times of crisis; the regular programming had been abandoned and they'd gone over to live streaming from New York.

The one thing I don't recall is seeing the second plane go in. Or had it already hit? I can't remember. I do remember thinking, America is under attack. World War III is here.

Then my manager and a colleague arrived back from a council bungalow they'd been decorating ready for the move of a resident out of the main house, which is where we were presently sitting. They sat down with me and watched the developments for a while. Then they began talking over the news about the jobs still left to do on the bungalow before the woman could make her move.

Life goes on, for the lucky ones. But my sense of foreboding wouldn't permit me to go on with normal conversation, normal activity. I felt there might be more developments. I was waiting to hear that the White House was under fire, or the Statue of Liberty.

And I wasn't wrong in any of my gloomy predictions. But it would take longer than I expected, and the attacks on the two greatest symbols of American democracy wouldn't come from the direction I anticipated.

As for World War III--well, my friends, we may actually be in it. Newspaper commentators this weekend pour cooling water on the alarmist talk of politicians and police about the perils of radical Islam, but the world is an infinitely more dangerous place while Bush and former Prime Minister Blair use the memory of 9/11 as an excuse for establishing a tactical bridgehead in the Middle East. This is a rocket that is locked and loaded and ready to be fired across all of our lives, and only God knows how much destruction it's going to wreak.


gary said...

..And then the nightmare turned to day as slowly the real evil reality began to dawn on us, Cough, inside job.

Bobby said...

I think (hope) things will turn around here in the States, and we'll have a little 'regime change' of our own with the mid term elections.

Hopefully a generation of cooler heads will emerge -- worldwide.

Leo said...

Bruce I think we all remember where we were that day and what we were doing when the news broke. I was loading my truck for the days deliveries when a co-worker told me of the initial attack. Being on the road most of the day, I relied on radio reports and never saw any video until I got home. I live about 100 miles from New York and earlier in the day, when it was thought that there would be a great demand for blood, I stopped to donate a pint but was refused as they already had enough. A friend of mine was walking through the ground floor of the first tower when it was hit. Thankfully she was not harmed but it is something she will always carry with her. I'm trying to think of how I will commemorate the day tomorrow. Maybe a walk in the woods. Find a quiet place. And think peaceful thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I was teaching in my classroom that day and I will never forget it. A former student who was a senior came charging into the classroom, screamed that we were under attack, and then grabbed my tv. clicker and turned it on. At that time I was teaching 7th grade. WE all watched the second plane go into the tower. One of my little boy students started to cry and when I went over and placed my arm around him, he said, "My mother works there." I comforted him as best I could. Fortunately, his mother did not go to work that day. I now have him as a senior as he still looks at me with these "puppy dog eyes" and neither one of us has to say a word - we just remember! Tomorrow I will address this horror with all my students. Our idea about what a hero is has certainly changed over the years since 9/11. I know one man who had a wonderful business in NYC and was on the phone with someone from Cantor-Fitsgerald when the plane went in. She died on the spot. He folded up his business and has never been back to NYC since. He was a very quiet, dignified human being and now he just about screams at everyone. WE must thank God for every day we have and live it to the fullest. Anne B. Grote

Bruce Hodder said...

It sounds like a horrendous cliche, but we have to look inwardly as well as outwardly to prevent further 9/11s, work on our understanding of ourselves and whatever religious/ ethical systems we follow. Because our own emotional lives, particularly when they are unacknowledged I think, translate into our public actions. If we are not peaceful and loving in ourselves, if our actions are motivated by anger, we're going to dump that anger on the people we interact with and they're going to pass it onto the next person. So your bad day could eventually start a global war! When I look at Bin Laden I see an angry, arrogant, misanthropic man who lacks such fundamental insight into himself he has subverted Islam unconsciously to justify his own inner rages (you could say the same thing about Bush and Christianity, though I think similarities between them may be only rhetorical--much as the anti-Bush brigade might want to hang me for it).

If you want to change the world, change yourself, as Tom Robbins would say.

What can be done on a political level? Well, the guys commenting above have already said it. We've got to be intelligent and stop voting for imperialist-expansionist governments like the Bush and Blair regimes. Oh, and we can push education as a political priority at every turn. Education sets people free, right Anne? I thank everybody for their moving insights into this terrible anniversary.