“Roy, wake up. A plane has hit the World Trade Center”

“Roy, wake up. A plane has hit the World Trade Center”

Rep Joe Wilson, Illustrating the real problem with the U.S.
Calmly calling the President a liar.

I was sleeping when I heard those words.  I don’t remember what my dream was that day, as I lay all comfy in my bed.

I had recently left a job in Colorado and was planning on moving to New York City to continue life and see if a long distance relationship could turn into a viable short distance one (it didnt’).   During the move I was staying with my folks in Dallas on that fateful morning, eight years ago.

Quickly rising from my slumber, I moved immediately to the television and watched in horror as the rest of the days events unfolded.

I had planned today to write a bit more about the current health care reform agenda and how those opposed to it aren’t really interested in anything resembling an honest debate.  Instead, you can read about that here [1], as I’m going to tell the other half of my 9/11 experience.

Most of the rest of that morning was spent frantically calling on the phone to my girlfriend, and her family and friends, trying to find out if she was all right.  She lived in an apartment on Ave A and 3rd street, and I remembered the calm moments of climbing to the rooftop of her building and marveling at the views of the Twin Towers, and the amazing accomplishtments of modern man, as I would enjoy the simple comfort of a cigarette, basking in the glow and energy of the City.

Ultimately a call finally got through, and some semblance of peace returned to my heart.  Over the new few weeks the stench of burning bodies and debris became too much for her, and a long bus ride brought her back to my arms, ending the first half of this story.

Fast forward to three years later, and I am living in New York, single, and wandering the town around the time of the Repbuclian National Convention in 2004.   Our country had since surrendered its sanity to fear after the events of that September day three years previous, and was currently conducting a war against a country that had no involvement in the attacks.  I had marched against the war a number of times, pointing out, again and again (sometimes loudly, sometimes softly) that the war and 9/11 had little connection outside of a tenuous religious and skin tone one.

Vast conspiracy theories about the attacks and the war had been created, and cynicism and skepticism about our government and its aim was rampant.   While I never felt that even someone as evil as Dick Cheney could allow such an attack to occur, I was, and am, more than willing to say that politicians are often willing to use the fear they create to accomplish their own agendas.

I am was lamenting this fact in a random bar after a couple of Dewars and waters and having struck up a conversation with the bartender and a couple of patrons about whatever and whatever.

It was then that the other side of the 9/11 hit me.

“I lost seven friends on that day,” the bartender said.

And so the convesation came to a screetching halt.  What had been a general lament became a personal attack, and I crossed a line from which it was impossible to pull back.

Now we are seeing the same distrust and conspiracy theories come up around an overhaul of a health care system, and economy, that is eating away at our future prosperity.

It is this level is distrust in one another, and working from vastly different sets of facts and evidence that make the conversation about how to go forward from here so frustrating.   In this sense, the attacks on 9/11 pale in comparison to the response to those attacks.   As we give into the fear and terror that a collapse of our economic way of life engender, our ability to rationally address the problems diminish.  They way forward becomes lost in a cloud of conspiracy and distrust.

This, to me, is the saddest legacy of those attacks.  We still haven’t recovered, we have simply transferred the fear of the other, to the fear of the self.

And so it goes, eight years on.

[1] : Most Republicans made clear during the day that Obama’s speech had done nothing to lessen their opposition.

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio stuck to Republican positions that the Democratic health-care proposals would give illegal immigrants health care, pay for abortions, and establish panels that make life-and-death decisions. Obama said they would not.

PolitiFact.com, a truth squad run by the St. Petersburg Times, found that there was no subsidy for illegal immigrants in the legislation, no “death panels,” and no public money for abortion.

3 thoughts on ““Roy, wake up. A plane has hit the World Trade Center”

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