Posted by: Calmseas (Mike) | September 13, 2011

9/11: The Full Range Of Human Experience

Where were you on 9/11?

I remember well where I was.  I was working my job, just as I had been doing for over 20 years.  A fellow employee poked his head around the door to my office and asked, “Did you hear what happened?  A plane just flew into the World Trade Tower.”  We talked for a minute or two, and I dismissed it as a pilot error or mechanical trouble, something similar to the B-25 smashing into the Empire State Building at the end of World War II.  (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUlWpqLsOVs.)

In the hours that followed, however, we learned that this was no ordinary aviation misstep; we learned that evil had descended upon humanity in its most sinister and most destructive form.  We also learned that the goodness of humanity was on full display that day: neighbor helping neighbor; firefighters and police running “toward” the danger, risking their own lives to help others; a government coming together, resolving to do whatever it takes to overcome this scourge visited upon the earth from the pit of hell.

It was, indeed, a day of contrasts, a day of paradoxes.  In my own little bubble, I watched events unfold on a small television set in the office that morning.  I was a spectator, but nonetheless immersed in the mayhem and the slaughter.  In the evening, I was sitting in my boat, anchored in the quiet backwaters of my favorite lake.  Overhead were a few high streaks of clouds in the mainly bright, blue sky.  Eeriness was to be found in the stillness above: there were no airplanes or other man-made objects in the sky that evening; the stillness was broken only here and there by a flock of passing geese with their distant honking and nearly imperceptible sound of flapping wings.

The worst of humanity; the best of humanity.  Unimaginable violence.  Peace.  9/11 captured the full range of human experience.  This is why 10 years later we relive the day in our minds as if it happened yesterday.  This is why the day has been forever seared into our consciousness; and if we live another 50 years, we will still relive it in our minds like it happened yesterday.

 

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