Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sepember 11th

Here it is, five years later, and here is what September 11th taught me: I'm impotent. Not sexually, but politically and in some ways socially.

You see, in America we are raised on melodrama, on the idea that the good guys win in the end. We have also believed in the myth of us (or U.S.): that we are the guardians of freedom; that we are the greatest nation on earth; that God so loves the American people that he put us here on Earth to lead the rest of the world to political, economic ans social salvation. That has been our myth for a long time now. It is implied by the phrase "The American Dream." It is at the heart of the idea of manifest destiny, the idea that we as a nation were destined by God to settle Norht America from sea to shining sea (kicking out and subjugating the indians who were already here and stealing or buying the land from the French, Russians and Mexicans who had already stolen it from the Indians before us as we did so). And why not? We had won every war we'd been involved in up to Viet Nam, and even that we were able to say wasn't really a war any way.

As I've written before, the European paradigm is not the melodrama but the tragicomedy, where no matter what good thing happens there is something bad waiting right around the corner, and vis versa. It is a wold weary, cynical view of life, devoid of the optimism and sense of purpse that is the birthright of every American. 9/11 has forced us into that Eurpoean paradigm, a world where life is really just a sick and twisted joke, a world where God is not watching out for you, where there is no inherent justice in life. In otherwords, a world of French and Italian post-war cinema. We are not John Wayne in the Sands of Iwo Jima anymore. We are now Marcello Mastrioni in *8-1/2,* or Lamberto Maggiorani in *The Bicycle Thief.*

We don't always get to be heroes. We dont' always get to save the day. Life isn't that well scripted. It isn't that clean.

We are fighting a war in Iraq that the Administration insists is a war but refuses to treat as a war. Our friends have become our enemies and our enemies have become stronger, not weaker (yes, they like to point to Libya as a success, but Libya was neutered when Regan bombed Quadafi's kids). We have been led by the nose into an Orwellian nighmare that seems to go on forever.

But you know all that.

Here's what it did to me. Before 9/11 we had a nice little SCA household going. It was getting bigger. We were having fun. Imediately after 9/11 Dave and cyna boke up. Then Ed and Beth bought a house in Jersey, and Beth filed for divorce a few days later. Charlie decided he had to do something to save the world and dropped out of sight to try to get into the fire deparmen, then when he wasn't accepted he and Bethany decided to have Kenna. Not too long after that Ben and Kahmile moved out of NYC back to San Francisco, and Mitch moved to Florida. John, whom we didn't see much at the time, was at Ground Zero durring the attacks. Recently he took a transfer to Floida as well. Sure, all of this might have happened anyway over the last five years. I didn't link it to 9/11 till just recently when Hanna pointed out the time line. But I think it makes sense. It is a moment that ripped us apart--the whole nation and our little corner of New York.

Maybe it's all bullshit, but we've gotten into the habit of defining everything by 9/11.

And I still cry sometimes when a fire engine goes by.


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