Friday, September 12, 2008

Remembering 9/11

I was at Selma in the City reading her post about 9/11. I attempted to make a comment and realised I had more to say than could fit in her box. Her post is lovely, please stop and read it.


That day I was running around. I still owned my printing and publishing business and it was one of those typically frantic days. I finally sat down at my desk; it must have been about 6 pm and caught the tail end of the radio news. I was sure they got something wrong. It couldn’t be right. Two planes crashing into both Towers? What were the chances of such an accident? I logged on the internet and found that, indeed, Radio Botswana had it correct. I immediately started calling. Calling friends and family in the States. What was happening? Were they okay? They were luckily fine, but everyone was frightened. It was still the early hours. No one knew what it all meant or if it was over.

I came to Botswana the way I've made my way to most places- I was running away. Though running gets a lot of bad press, I’ve found it effective for solving a wide range of problems. I found a strange comfort here. I was now in a place where I would forever be an outsider which somehow made more sense to me than being in a place where I was expected to fit in but never could. So I dug a deep hole in the hot Botswana sand and threw all that was American about me inside. I covered it up, stamped hard on top, and walked away, assured that I was finally free. I was free of my mangled past. I wanted nothing more to do with the Reagan/Bush America that I had bashed my head against for so long. I didn’t want to be associated with them. I’d finally learned the real truth of the American Dream my father worked his short life to never achieve. I wanted to work from a clean mental slate.

But as I sat hypnotised by the CNN images of the toy planes crashing into the toy towers, something moved in me. How could I despise a place that in its theoretical foundation provides space for the freedom I’ve longed for my whole life? The attack was not against the real America- that’s what I realised- and neither was my rejection of my birth country. The true America had been hijacked by the corporate greed of a few. The hijack is still in progress. The hijackers insulting the American people with talk about their patriotism and allegiance to a flag like a puppet master behind the black curtain. That greed was what the world hated. That was why thousands died that day.

Of course 9/11 in retrospect is the pivot from which Bush and Co. get their moral justification for their carnage. It continues and continues and the puppet master is now on a fulltime contract. I don’t know if Barack Obama can clear the mess away. I’m not sure the people will allow him to pull the curtain aside too far; it will be painful to see. Perhaps Obama doesn’t have the courage to look behind it either. I think everyone can see that the real America is being wiped away. I’ve found an unsteady peace with my American past and as I think today about that horrible day, I mourn for my battered country.


Anonymous said...

I cried when I read this. You write with such passion and true empathy. I understand about running away. I do it a lot - I stay in the same country but I mentally retreat.

The saddest part for me in this piece is when you speak of your father working all of his short life to not achieve the American Dream. Oh, my dear, that has reduced me to tears.

America is battered at the moment. I hope she can rise up and be the truly great country she once was. For the moment however, may I say what a phenomenal writer you are and what a pleasure it is to know you!

Lauri said...

Thanks Selma. Your post was my inspiration.

Karen said...

This was amazing, and like Selma, I have tears in my eyes.

I fear for this country now. While I don't know if Obama can fix all that is wrong, in fact I'm pretty sure no ONE person can, I doubt he'll make things worse.

The other candidate, on the other hand... my heart lurches in fear at the thought of him being at the helm. I fear for my country if he is elected. I fear that everyting which is good and right about America will give up, crawl into a hole and die.

If greed wins this election, there's a very good chance we'll be doing some running away of our own.

Lauri said...

I know so many Americans who feel exactly like you do, Karen, and I fear for you. It is as if people said -okay we can last 4 more years, but only just. It's like everyone is holding their breath. But some how I have hope.

Anonymous said...

Your corporate greed/puppet master analysis is spot on, Lauri. It's sad to me that the rest of the planet can see this so much more clearly than the deluded voters who kept the current regime in office.

These issues have divided much of the country, and have even divided me from my own siblings. I wonder if this is what the country was like just before the Civil War?

I have friends in Canada and relatives in Ireland . . . I wonder if they'd be open to a loooong visit?

Sagacious Woman

Amy said...

9/11 to me is part of the American myth. We do not pursue the truth on why this happened because it will expose the country for what it always was and still is.

Its funny you use the analogy of running away from this nation when in reality this country is founded on the runaway mentality. Runaway from reality, runaway from responsibility, runaway from dealing with the ramifications of our actions, and then lets make myths to cover up our disgrace.

As we all obviously know the U.S. is founded on economic principles, not democratic. We broke from a country that gave its people some of the greatest political freedom of its time, but we wanted to keep our dollar and this thing called investment. What do we do to cover up our greed? We state we are fighting for freedom of tyranny.

We wipe out the native population, enslave a race of people from thousands of miles away in the process and create the myth these people were passive, weak. "If it was such a burden for them,why didn't they fight more?" The American history books are sure to perpetuate this myth.

We have continued this predator mentality for generations as we undermine democratic socialist countries around the world by any means necessary for the pursuit of economic interest,and when these countries retaliate, we hear "they don't like freedom loving people."

The political leadership,the media, even the majority of the American citizenry never address why the U.S. was attacked the way it was attacked. Yes, the way it was attacked by its own invincible modernization. She came tumbling down for all the world to see. It was an attempt to break a myth or two. But what was the American response, more myths, more lies, more disgrace.

9/11 to me is memorializing another American myth.

The fact that no one even has the conversation on why this happened is not just alarming, its frightening. Will Obama become a myth buster? Not yet. He didn't even attempt to address why. Yes, I know to do so would be political suicide in our nationalistic country, but we have got to break the myths if we want justice and peace.

Submitted by
Amy (Lauri's little sister)

Lauri said...

Sagacious Woman- I too am seperated from my elder sister because of the politics around this and other issues. Since she can only see her now full pocketbook she fears seeing the real picture. I wonder about that comment regarding the civil war- perhaps you're right. I hope that that sentiment is not a premonition.

BUT you Americans should be hopeful. My little sister with her wonderful post is a teacher- a history teacher no less!! There is hope out there if our children are being taught by such thinking people.
(Shame- ain't I so proud!)