Yesterday, as I watched the news reports repeatedly broadcast the
collapse of New York City's World Trade Center, a deep and profound
sense of turmoil overcame my being. The sight of two buildings that
I had once stood at the foot of as an awed 10 year-old boy felled
in such a dramatic and powerful way shook my foundation and stuck
in my face the utter reality that the hate and tyranny of the world
was indeed a personal affliction. And even the de-sensitivity of
so many big Hollywood movies could lessen the fact that with the
destruction of the Twin Towers came also the understanding that
the build up of hatred in the world may soon come to a horrific
and inevitable climax.
My day began quietly. I turned the ignition of my car and heard
on the news that a plane crashed in Washington DC. After having
lived for 27 years and hearing countless plane crash news reports,
I was ironically unconcerned. I have dissected each previous crash
report in my own way and have now reached the point where I avoid
them altogether. I popped in a CD and made my way down Interstate
5. As I drove on the freeway, the CD I inserted sounded distorted
through my speakers. Though it was music I loved, it was somehow
innapropriate and edgy for the morningtime. I ejected it and assumed
I would listen to the news report after all.
After a few moments, I realized that the plane crash I discarded
earlier was something dire and grave. Words like "horrific"
and "catastrophe" were being spoke and the tone of the
broadcaster's voices did not have a "business as usual"
tone about it. After a few seconds, the events of the morning became
perfectly clear and I learned of the massive death and destruction
that America had earlier endured. Shock and fear gripped my body.
I came to the almost instantaneous conclusion that much more death
and ire would inevitably follow these events and I openly wept in
my car just outside of the Garnet and Grand Interstate 5 exit.
White knuckled, I drove to work and immersed myself in a media
assault that would continue for eight hours. Three radios, the Internet
and a television set laid down the truths of an event the press
was calling "the new day of infamy."
But beyond the Pennsylvania plane crash and the Pentagon damage,
it was the images of the burning and atrophied Twin Towers that
was the most incomprehensible and surreal. The scene of horror unfolding
in New York City had all the ingrediants of a revelation or apocalypse.
The symbolism of the event was profound.
Consider the building. The World Trade Center was the epitome of
America's foreign business affairs-business that ultimately wronged
some faceless tyrants that chose to revolt against it. In a single
stroke, these terrorists reduced that symbol to absolute ruin.
But the Twin Towers also represented American success, its wealth
and shear strength. They stood a short distance away from the Statue
of Liberty. To immigrants, it was the ultimate sign of their arrival.
The New York City skyline and it's notion of being this country's
most prime piece of real estate and the ultimate symbol of American
prosperity proudly displayed the Twin Towers as its crown jewel.
Yesterday, those jewels were smashed to pieces along with the lives
and bodies of thousands of Americans.
Beyond the fall of the Towers and the mythic symbolism of their
destruction, another brutal realization flooded my consciousness
amid yesterday's recurring news reports. It was of the terrorists
choice of destroying America with its own people. Hurling American
bodies at American bodies and literally using our own flesh and
blood against us. It was reminscent of a schoolyard bully making
his helpless victim punch himself with his own fist.
Now, after 10 hours of constant news reports, film footage, co-worker
speculation, mournful meditation and the loss of a youthful memory.
I am imposing on myself a media fast. Leaving the destruction of
American ideals to those with the willingness and fortitude to still
watch. I no longer can.
Sept. 11, 2001