I remember secretly scheming at that moment to get a little extra sleep the next day since #1, I was at work so late as it was already, and #2, why show up at work at 9:00 AM when I really wouldn't be able to get myself absorbed into anything productive or worthwhile, since I had a meeting in an hour at 10:00.
So I would show up at 9:30 AM I decided, maybe even 9:45... get an extra hour of shuteye. Good plan.
Leaving the building that Monday night, I glanced across the plaza in the darkness towards a lone guitarist playing a mournful tune. I couldn't locate him visually, so I instead directed my gaze up and beyond the plaza, at them... up towards the sky, and away. And that is the last I ever saw of them.
I don't have to tell you where I used to work, or what year this was.
I never made it into work the next day. My coworker never went to Italy. There was no airplane that would take her there, or anyone else anywhere else for that matter (unless your last name was Bin Laden and you were impositioned by being in the USA at that time... then the current administration was happy to fly you out of the country). I lost four computers and two years of code. But compared to what other people lost, I lost nothing.
Two months later, a week before Thanksgiving in November, after my employer had shuffled me around various floors in unrelated departments in another office building unsure of what to do with me, I was fired. But in relation to what was really lost, by other families, as a city, as a nation, as a world, I still felt, and still do feel, like I really lost nothing.
A year later, I made my first post on kuro5hin in a heated argument about the possibility of waging war on Iraq. Two years later, I wrote this story. Three years since, after viewing the RNC and listening to the heated rhetoric inside Madison Square Garden on the television, and listening to the heated rhetoric outside on the streets in person... after reflecting on 1,000 lives lost in Iraq by the US armed forces... after recoiling from the repugnant attack on the children of an Ossetian school... after hearing of yet another attack by Jemaah Islamiyah in Indonesia, I am confronted by how much September 11th 2001 has changed me and this world.
I hope that people might use this little story of mine to vent about recent terror-related events in the world on this anniversary of September 11th, 2001. Or share with us recollections of yours from that day. Rant against Punitive Liberals. Rant against Warmongering Conservatives. Rant against American Imperialism. Rant against Terrorist Scumbags. Rant against John Kerry. Rant against George Bush. Whatever you do, rant. Get it out there.
This is not to say that either the conduct of war, or the prevailing attitude towards it, has become less bloodthirsty or more chivalrous. On the contrary, war hysteria is continuous and universal in all countries, and such acts as raping, looting, the slaughter of children, the reduction of whole populations to slavery, and reprisals against prisoners which extend even to boiling and burying alive, are looked upon as normal, and, when they are committed by one's own side and not by the enemy, meritorious. But in a physical sense war involves very small numbers of people, mostly highly-trained specialists, and causes comparatively few casualties. The fighting, when there is any, takes place on the vague frontiers whose whereabouts the average man can only guess at, or round the Floating Fortresses which guard strategic spots on the sea lanes. In the centres of civilization war means no more than a continuous shortage of consumption goods, and the occasional crash of a rocket bomb which may cause a few scores of deaths. War has in fact changed its character. More exactly, the reasons for which war is waged have changed in their order of importance. Motives which were already present to some small extent in the great wars of the early twentieth century have now become dominant and are consciously recognized and acted upon.
Chapter 9, '1984', George Orwell
Three years after Sept. 11, too many people have become experts at averting their eyes. If you look at the editorials and public pronouncements made in response to Beslan, you see that they glide over the perpetrators of this act and search for more conventional, more easily comprehensible targets for their rage.
They're still victims of the delusion that Paul Berman diagnosed after Sept. 11: "It was the belief that, in the modern world, even the enemies of reason cannot be the enemies of reason. Even the unreasonable must be, in some fashion, reasonable."
This death cult has no reason and is beyond negotiation. This is what makes it so frightening. This is what causes so many to engage in a sort of mental diversion. They don't want to confront this horror. So they rush off in search of more comprehensible things to hate.
'Cult of Death', the New York Times, David Brooks, September 7th
Rage on world. You will get your answers. You will solve your problems. But remember, we are still alive, while so many have died that didn't have to.
And that is what drives our anger, and that is what fuels our fear, and that is what fires our loathing. Let us use these emotions constructively, and put an end to the era of large-scale, interconnected, global terrorism that we unfortunately find ourselves in today.
Remember the dead who did not have to die.
Protect the living that need not suffer for crimes they did not commit.