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Posts Tagged ‘9/11’

What to Do On 9/11

I am called every year on or around 9/11 by members of the media looking for a quote. The farther we get away from the event, the harder it gets for them to figure out what to ask me. This year, the prevailing theme seemed to be “9/11 fatigue” – is America getting tired of commemorating the day? While I suspect this isn’t even an issue outside the New York metro area, it’s worth looking at. Are people tired of the event itself, particularly at ground zero, where the names of the victims are read aloud and the ceremony is covered locally by every major affiliate? Do they resent that public recognition of the 3,000 victims far exceeds that which has been given to victims of other recent tragedies and especially to those Or might they be disgusted with the endless wars and the endless warnings and the reminder that 9/11 sometimes seems to have changed everything and nothing.

The symbolism is wearying for certain but then again so is our tendency to make grandiose gestures. That doesn’t mean you can’t turn the symbol to your purpose. September 11 can be the day every year you do something positive for your community and register your good deed at www.mygoodeed.org. If you’re thinking globally these days, visit www.sfcg.org to support programs in conflict resolution or check out www.ourvoicestogether.org and help rebuild a life. Give money to Katrina relief or other emergency operations or your local women’s shelter. Then light a candle, say a prayer if you’re so inclined and trust me, my husband and the many other victims of the events of 9/11 and beyond will be more than honored.

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I’ve always been more of a word person myself but I’m drawn to images because they often get across a mood, a message, or a transformational moment in ways that words can’t. That’s how many of us probably felt about the hundreds of photos we saw on 9/11 and in its aftermath. I was reminded of that at a recent talk given by David Friend, author of “Watching the World Change.” It may be hard to remember how much power those images packed at the time, except for those of us who lived through it. In general the world, particularly the online world, seems have moved away from qualifying what we look at or what we read. Every picture, every word bears equal weight; the mundane, the outlandish, the gratuitous and the tasteless are presented alongside what is meant to be truly moving, momentous or even horrific. The effect is to distance us from the emotional content. We’re just spectators and it’s all entertainment, whether it’s the latest Britney or the most recent beheading. Been there, done that. I don’t see how, in a democracy, you can tell people what to look at and I don’t want to, as our public officials seem to have trouble these days knowing where to draw the line. Unfortunately, so do the rest of us.

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