"Hey, go turn on the TV! A commuter plane just crashed into the World Trade Center!"
I'd read about the plane crashing into the Empire state building in the 40's, so I turned on the TV so see what was going on. A few minutes later the second plane hit the other tower, and the whole world changed.
Of course, it didnt, not really.
We were probably the only people in the world who thought that we were invulnerable.
People died on a regular basis in terrorist attacks all over the world, but never here (...dont think about a Oklahoma City...dont think about Oklahoma City...). Alas, we were wrong, and that morning a handful of men and four airplanes forcefully rubbed our nose in it.
The worst part of that day was not what happened in the attack, but what we missed in the aftermath.
We missed the heroes in New York. Not just the Fire and Police personel who died helping, but all the ordinary people who did what they could to help, some of them dying too. Not just Rudolph Giulianni, but ordinary people who thought clearly in a crisis, and did what needed to be done, many on their own initiative.
History would like you to believe that what make America great is it's Leadership. This is a lie.
What makes America great is its ordinary Men, Women, and Children, people who DO things. Leadership in this country is at best a reinforcement, a guy standing at some point in the line, waving his arm in a forward motion, yelling "go! go! go!". At worst, it's a bunch of bullies standing around sneering, "oh, like you know what you're doing!"
Of course, that's not to say that we cant be misled, at least temporarily, especially if the bullies are cunning. Perhaps I'll let Herman Goering explain it:
"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."But that doesnt mean that we have to keep going wherever those guys with the waving arms tell us. We dont have to believe them when the bullies threaten us ("Hey, dont go that way, or somebody's gonna hurt you!"). And the funny thing that people often dont realize is that it doesnt take much, not really. Just stop listening to them. Protesting and all that is fine, and useful, but in the end, the most powerful force in the country is...
That's right, talking. Ask any Advertising person, they'll tell you that what sells a product is not an ad. What sells a product is Buzz. The ad may start the buzz rolling, but without the buzz the cleverest advertisement will fail dismally.
This blog right here is part of the buzz. If I talk and you talk, and other people talk, and some more people write it down, and someone else reads it and tells another person - that's buzz. If you think you think the Bush Administration is bad for America, then say it. I suspect you'll find another person who agrees with you. Maybe the two of you can find more. People are social creatures, we like to talk, and we like to have people share our opinions. Only 51% of the country, barely a majority, thought George Bush was the right choice for the Leader of this country, and opinion polls show that number much lower now (latest job approval rating at around 38%). The buzz is getting louder, and if we all keep talking, it can get louder still.
Do you doubt the power of mere speech? Then ask yourself why speech is limited in countries controlled by dictatatorships. Those who live under tyranny are often deprived of the means to communicate. Or their communications are monitored and the content punished to the extent that they are mistrustful of even those they know, let alone speaking to strangers. The buzz has been stopped, and so the power has been stopped. Secret Police are never there to stop insurrection, they exist to stop communication.
There is a reason that Freedom Of Speech is in the First Amendment.
Talk, talk, talk.
Talk about what you read, write about what you hear, keep the Buzz going. In a little over a year, you will get yet another chance to inform the government as it stands now about how you feel about it.
What will you tell it?
I know it sounds like I've gone a long ways from where I started, thinking about that terrible day for years ago when I saw something almost unimaginable. But I havent, not really. One reason bin Laden hates America is because he hates what we think, what we do, what we say. But what he really hates is the idea that "his" own people might start saying the same things. So he tries to give them something else to talk about. This is a tried and true bully leader tactic.
Great Satan, gay marriage, Christian infidel, liberal immorality, Palestinian oppression, undeserved medals.
If you really want to honor the dead, then talk about them. Really talk about them, and talk about what led up to 9/11, and talk about what led from it. Talk about it if you think it's right, talk about it if you think it's wrong. This is America, and if we want it to continue being America, then we need to TALK, or we'll just be another bunch of serfs slaving for the Overlord Corporation.