September 11, 2001 – September 11, 2010
I suppose the title reads like a tombstone engraving. And in some ways, maybe that's true. Unless...unless....
Historical 09/11 marks the day Americans and much of the world stopped in our tracks. We held our collective breath in disbelief, and wept for our America and those who died that day simply because they lived and worked in New York City. Remember? Of course you do. In the days and weeks that followed, we were a powerfully united country and the whole world embraced us without reservation. That is the last time our country was populated by grown-ups.
From that point forward – for nine agonizing years – we have spiraled ever deeper into a nation divided and subdivided. In the beginning, that was due at least in part to national trauma. There was no precedent, no blueprint for how to proceed. In our collective grief, we were willing to trust and cut slack because we were too gobsmacked to do otherwise. “Let go and let Bush” became the unspoken mantra. Critical analysis was viewed as something subversive. Read more.
Now we are a country of fractious and pissed-off people, hurling insults and wildly irrational invective across an unbreachable chasm of our own creation. We have morphed from a trusted and at least sometimes-loved world leader into a nation where spewed venom passes for communication. Meanwhile, the rest of the world watches in complete bewilderment as the once-respected United States of America unravels. Pogo was prescient on this whole deal.
Our country’s heroic martyrs – for example, JFK, Bobby Kennedy, MLK, Twin Towers victims, military personnel – were individuals who defended or at least lived in a comparatively principled country that was more role model than circus, and more about the milk of human kindness than bitter tea.
Where are our heroes now, apart from those serving in our messy wars? Whose voice can rise above the rabble babble and be heard? Who cares enough about America to put principle before electability? And then, all of that said, who will listen and hear? Does anyone give a damn any more? Really. I want to know.
Press pause today and look long and hard at who we are, who we are becoming. Where is our moral compass? It seems to be MIA. Do not retreat into your personal foxhole (or FOX hole). It is not hyperbolic to say that everything is on the line. Now. Today. Speak out. And pause only for breath enough to speak again. We must do this thing. Our leaders do not hear whispers.