Blog

20

On September 11, 2001, I awoke on City Island next to my newish girlfriend, (now my wife), and looked across the water toward Manhattan.  “That’s one helluva fire,” I said.  “I can’t even see the towers through the smoke.”  The second tower had been struck just moments before.  Then, a distraught neighbor came running down the beach yelling something about ‘fucking towelheads’…and the world changed forever.  I had never before felt real, mortal danger.  I am one of the lucky ones, born in a country that was better than most, into a family, though tiptoeing at the edges of poverty, that instilled in me the ideas of achievement and possibility.  War, abject hunger and devastating drought were things on the news and soldiers were merely young people in strange uniforms that I occasionally passed on the street or watched in movies.  I thought myself caring and connected to the issues.  I marched and protested, sang and sat in but, until that most beautiful of September mornings, I was an oblivious asshole.  For better or worse, I think deeper about things since that day, albeit still from the safe distance of my luckier-than-most lot.  I believe in holding bad people responsible for their atrocities, but I found the go to xenophobia to be as dangerous as the horrible act itself.  What began as a unifying gasp of disbelief, too quickly spawned a rift between those who wished to understand the roots of such evil and those who felt suddenly free to unleash their suppressed bigotry, real, cross-burning, I’m-coming-for-you hatred of others…Muslims, (most definitely), those Mexicans, blacks, liberals, and those uppity women who just don’t know their place.  So, my perception of safety is vastly diminished.  Statistically, half of those I pass on the street wish me harm, some will act out and the randomness of it is unnerving.  A heinous act sucked the breath out of us all but the antidote, the humanity and compassion and vision of peace and tranquility has been unpunnily Trumped by the most unkind version of our darkest nature.