9 days. I am not looking forward to it.
The lame, drawn-out, syrupy, hokey, vain attempts at tribute. The blanket of silence across America as we all take time to reflect on the atrocities we’ve witnessed. The way a noticeable shift in people’s behaviors will occur for a very brief period. The knowledge that such things are impending is making me sick. After all, nothing is more terrifying to me than the thought that a year later, after everyone has returned to being their normal asshole selves, they’re going to attempt to be human for a day and show a little compassion. As if somehow a change in the date signifies that any one of us truly comprehends what the passage of time may have done to us or to our fellow man. I know I may sound a bit hypocritical in saying that, but the truth still remains. Nothing anyone can do or say is enough to conquer the emotion, the heartbreak and the pure spectacle of what we’ve all seen. So when I see some half-assed attempts to drop a band-aid on our national scars, it bothers me. Sappy pop songs about togetherness and brotherhood aren’t enough. Thousands of people died. Tapping your foot along to Neil Young or Bruce Springsteen is not a fitting memorial. Monuments do nothing. Can any average American tell you the significance of the Gettysburg Memorial or the Washington Monument? Probably not. Most of us have forgotten, time and tediousness dulling our memories. We all suffered through history in school, bored out of our wits, waiting for the class to end and for something more exciting to pop us out of the sleepy trance it had put us in. But did we learn anything from it? No, not really. In all honesty, if history was being learned by anyone, it surely wouldn’t repeat itself so often. Still, here we sit, coping with tragedy that should have, could have and would have been prevented, had we, as a people, been paying attention. After all, isn’t this all about oil somehow? After all, isn’t it the contention of many that the “official version” is always just a cover story? If you’re all watching the X-Files and making it such a high-rated program, why do you swallow Bush’s bumbling speeches so well? These are the questions I want journalists to ask. I know why it happened. I know why things like that will continue to happen. And I know why nobody will learn anything useful from it. So what, then? A national holiday? A monument? Some tribute albums? Donations to the Red Cross? This all is very good, but still avoiding the real issues at play here. It’s kind of like when you have a young kid that’s upset and throwing a tantrum in public because he isn’t getting his way, and his parents buy him a toy or some candy to shut him up. It’s not really solving anything, but it sure helps stop the screaming. So, 9 days until that one day. That one day where everyone tries to deal with complex, diverse and painful issues with some magical 24-hour period of events. On that day, I suggest that you don’t participate in a minute of silence. I suggest you instead spend that minute asking a complete stranger how watching people die has made them feel. Maybe you might make them think about how stupid it all is. Because at the end of the day, the nagging reality is still the fact that a planet witnessed the deaths of a great number of its inhabitants, and a good percentage of those same people think that, a year later, a moment of silence and some over-the-top tributes is enough homage to the fallen. I hope some of you reading this might think about these things when everyone falls silent, and I hope it gets to you. I want it to. I want this all to get under your skin, because it should. We should be angry, not apathetic. And not angry at the “towel-heads” and the “heartless cowards” that perpetrated this whole thing, but at ourselves, for perpetuating any sort of intolerance in the first place. For being so arrogant as to think that anyone on this earth shouldn’t be here and doesn’t belong. For picking on that geeky kid in high school. For laughing at the special ed kids. For laughing out loud when someone trips and falls. Because every time we alienate someone in our lives, we create hatred and dissent. And that, above anything else, is at the heart of the whole matter.
9 days. It’s enough time to make a change.