The Other I

September 11, 2011

9/11: the best of us, the worst of us

Filed under: Just Stuff — theotheri @ 1:30 pm

It seems almost disrespectful to write about anything except 9/11 today.  It is impossible to turn on the TV without remembering.  And wondering again with so many others if we could have done it differently.

With Tony’s Cochran’s Agnes – or more accurately with Anna Frank – I still believe that in spite of everything, people are really good at heart.


Or perhaps I would say that I still believe the universe is evolving as it must.

Because it seems to me that 9/11 called forth both the very best and the very worst of us.  The very best in the passengers on the plane brought down in a field in Pennsylvania by a team of men, husbands, brothers, sons and fathers who said they would rather die trying to stop it than to hope that somehow they would survive.  The very best in New York rescue services, especially the firemen who did not put their own safety first.  The very best in many of the survivors and families of victims who have taken their pain and are using it as a fulcrum to make the world a better place.

The very worst in our invasion of Iraq on the false pretense that the terrorists who had so damaged and humiliated us were thriving there, when the government knew this was not true.  The very worst in Abu Graib and Guantanamo which were as great a betrayal of what is the best of America as the planes crashing into iconic buildings were an attack on it.  The worst in the bigotry against Muslims in general, with a smug denial of the truth that Christians have engaged in attacks on innocent cities just as ferocious.

9/11, like so many tragedies, brought out the worst of us. But it also brought out the best.

The very best.


1 Comment »

  1. Terry, hi!

    I saw this post only today, 9/11 and already my thoughts are being crowded by the significance of the day. It’s amazing to me that the intentions of Bin Laden have been realized beyond his wildest dreams … and that is because the US gave into an ancient paranoid ethno-religious rage and in so doing began a process of self-destruction, more lethal and more interior than any jihadist could possibly have accomplished.

    At the core of this rage is hubris, the inability to “let go” — an obsessive self-involvement that projects power over others as a condition of one’s own self-value. Unfortunately, hubris has a flip-side, the more you insist on forcing others to accept that you are worth something, the less you are able to just take it for granted, and your value becomes conditioned on your projections and no longer simply there. Hubris once begun, repeats itself necessarily, because each power projection involves a simultaneous undermining of self-esteem. It is only reversed by non-projection, the ability that allows someone, as Pascal said, “to sit quietly in your room” … to “let go.” It comes from the secure awareness of an inalienable self-worth.

    The secure self-possession of self-worth, in my scheme of things, is the ground of peace and justice among people. Those that have it, know, intimately, that it implies a trust in ourselves — what makes us us. What could that be?

    Had the US “sat quietly in its room” after 9/11 knowing that its self-worth and national dignity were not dependent upon its “kicking someone’s ass” in an act of blind rage in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of the towers, I believe that the display of “faith” in the overall goodness of people everywhere would have worked to achieve the security that ten years of slaughter have not.

    But, just like the alcoholic who drinks to suppress the feelings of failure caused by his drinking, there’s no solution for us except to “let go.”


    Comment by tonyequale — September 11, 2011


    Comment by Tony Equale — September 11, 2011 @ 7:26 pm | Reply

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