9.11.2007

Remembrance

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.

5 comments:

terah said...

WOW...well put!

gibbarella said...

I think you are taking peoples grief wrong or they are presenting it wrong to you. I think people remember this day over any other day b/c it was an attack to all of us at once and by remembering it and grieving on this day you grieve for everyone that has ever lost someone.

cathryn said...

No, I'm not taking peoples' grief wrongly OR rightly - I'm not "taking" it at all. I'm not suggesting how or when people should grieve, I'm only exploring my own feelings on the issue. There are countless "attacks" on groups and nations. The one that happened on this day six years ago is not the only one and yet we place so much emphasis on it - intentionally or unintentionally, bestowing upon it more importance than any other loss. And as I said, I AM thinking of not only the devastation of the 9/11 tragedy, but of all those who have experienced that kind of pain. I think you may have misunderstood my intentions. My point was that grief does not fall into a hierarchy of importance or significance and we should be careful that we don't inadvertently place it on a scale.

boty said...

It's true Cafra..."all life is suffering" -Budah

I am guilty of thinking of the people whom suffered most today, just like I think of certain persons and situations on other specific dates, just like I think of the pain and fear of most living things. We are hyper-sensitive and recognize a broader band of the emotions surrounding the suffering state of the world and are above all we recognize it more frequently. Unfortunately, most people, I feel, that were not "directly" effected by 9/11 "grieve" and seek vengeance because it's what they think they should feel and do...not because of actual true empathy or compassion for those suffering. I mean seriously, right now there are over 100,000 forced child prostitutes in the USA alone...where is their day? Where is their vengeance?

Just a heads up...remembering the past tragedies of the world can be healing, but perhaps more time should be spent preventing or lessening things that are present, changeable, and preventable.

cathryn said...

I don't begrudge anyone remembering any tragedy they want anytime they want. I agree, Boty, perhaps more time and effort whould be spent addressing more urgent issues. I noticed there was an article in the NYT entitled, 'How much tribute is enough?' - I wasn't able to access the article but am curious what was said. I wonder if the author felt as I do, that such concentrated attention on an event (yes, a tragic and horrific event) after six years is somewhat indulgent and superficial when there have been and continue to be so many other horrific tragedies occurring on a daily basis? I don't know...