Yes, it is 9/11.
Yes, the anniversary of a horrific national tragedy. Six years later - which isn't such a long time - the consequences are still being felt. Many people died on this day, six years ago. But many people also died yesterday, six years ago. And many people also died tomorrow, six years ago. There are equally horrific personal tragedies that occur every single minute of every single day, and yet no one shares in the grief and the loss and the devastation. The burden of tragedy is most often bourn alone. The pain is not diminished; the reality is not less real, simply because it is experienced by one person instead of hundreds or thousands.
Don't judge me too harshly, gentle reader, I am compassionate. And I understand that tragedy on a grand scale is worthy of national (and international) sorrow and grief. I understand the significance of what this day set in motion - we all do. But, that significance does not mean it elevates this grief above all other grief. It does not make this loss more important than all other loss. It is no more devastating than a teenager hanging himself or a child taken or a woman killed in a car crash or refugees shot in the streets. Grief does not fall into a hierarchy.
And yet, we bestow upon this date a highly concentrated recognition with songs and prayers and memorials and moments of silence and promises of vengeance. Those who were personally affected by this particular tragedy are put on pedestals as paragons of human suffering and sacrifice. But their suffering is not greater or more justified than any other human's suffering. By singling out this date with such fervor, such hair-pulling, such beating of the chest, it implies that other tragedies are not as acute. Not as painful. Not as harrowing. And even more tragic than the many lives lost in the attack on 9/11 six years ago, is the (unintentional?) dismissal of the pain and devastation experienced everyday, in every form, by human beings all over the world on every personal level imaginable. So, instead of bowing my head today in remembrance of the victims of 9/11, I will bow my head in deference, in empathy, and in respect of the grief and the suffering that is felt not only on this date by select people, but that is felt every day by people everywhere.