9/11 11 Ten Years On
Ten years ago to the day I thought my life had come to an end. As I ran from a collapsing building that looked destined to fall upon me; as I was swallowed by a barely breathable black cloud so dense that no light penetrated, I thought ‘this is it’. For nearly 3000 people that was indeed the case.
As pitch black gave way to a lesser grey, I emerged from the cloud to find the world had changed. Cities were stunned into silence, then tempers flared, rants of revenge spewed from the mouths of politicians, and mother’s cried not only for their lost children but for those soon-to-be-lost on the other side of the world.
Ten years on. Cites churn once again in noisy commercialism, tempers have been tempered by time, once ranting politicians have retired, retreated, bequeathing their costly and continuing wars to a new establishment, while the tears spilled continue to ring true.
I have continued to live my life, embrace my life as I would have pre-9/11, though on this anniversary of the attacks I’m aware of being gifted with 10 years more than would have expected on that near-miss day.
There’s no question I continue to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress disorder – something I initially didn’t have a name for, something I was embarrassed to admit affected me, something I’ve now come to accept. It’s one lingering effect that regularly catches me by surprise is being in a serene situation, something as innocent as a children’s playground, and seeing disaster strike on a catastrophic scale, as if I was horror movie writer. I’m sure I’m not alone in my visions. Even those who weren’t there on the day can picture a darker world now that the realm of possibility for evil has been widened, bridged.
I worry too about the chemicals I ingested while breathing in that black cloud. I still have my shirt safely preserved from the day, caked with the dust of a pulverised building. I can only imagine how much of it reached my lungs.
I have problems in parkades. Particularly in the basements, the cold unfinished concrete doesn’t sugar-coat the huge building precariously balanced above me, so I never linger long.
I cry now for more people lost. The Boxing Day tsunami while not born of the rage of man but by hands of nature dwarfed the death toll of 9/11 by a 100 times. Subsequent floods, earthquakes, tsunamis continue to bring more tears.
But while Mother Nature seems careless, Man still appears callous.
The planet creaks and groans under the weight of our demands.
Wars started shortly after 9/11 still rage a decade on, costs mounting while millions still die from hunger and disease.
Social networking which initially had people dancing in the streets, then coalesced entire nations in overthrowing governments, now has people rioting in normally quiet streets. (I often wonder what would have happened if social media would have been around ten years ago … the clearer picture we would have had of what was going on within the towers, within the planes even … the greater ability that loved ones would have had to share their final thoughts …)
They say frowns take more muscles to create than smiles, and I have to believe that hatred takes an energy that for most is unsustainable. I’ve travelled a lot. People are intrinsically good, they want to be. Fear, ignorance, greed and in so many cases indoctrination from culture and childhood can in my mind, literally be wiped out in one generation, two tops. Imagine if everyone was taught to love and accept, that social networking succeeds in being able to show us that we’re all the same. I’m not sure how you get rid of greed (and with it envy), I don’t know that corporations can be taught.
The legacy of 9/11 is far from settled. Ten years is but a blip forward. Sadly I don’t think we’ve moved forward at all.