What are we just understanding now about the story of 9/11? I think it's that we are all just stumbling our way through this life without certitude. The "moral clarity" we were supposed to have gleaned that day has given way to a moral fog.
It's true that was one of the worst atrocities ever committed, but when a people reacts heroically at first, but then as despicably as we have (launching wars, raining death and destruction down on people who had no hand in the attack, etc.), it has taught me that the righteousness of the American experiment is not a given and that we must constantly reexamine and re-earn that righteousness.
What wisdom do we want to focus on? I don't know. We all hoped that the event would cement our bonds not just as Americans but as people of the world, but we seem only to grow further apart from one another. Reasons for this go beyond 9/11, and obviously those forces are stronger than the bonding and community that we felt after 9/11.
I suppose politicians will make speeches about coming together and taking care of our neighbors, but they will soon go back, as Rick Perry recently did, to asserting that their opponents don't love their country, thus giving lie to those solemn 9/11 speeches. So the "wisdom" we should focus on is the wisdom ignored, but isn't that always the way? The lessons were obvious after the attacks, but we've chosen not to let them sink in and become tenets of our collective soul.
I understand there's always a gulf between our ideals and our actions. Life is messy, but the lofty rhetoric we're going to hear in the next few weeks about community and neighborliness will give way to narrow parochial concerns, and that's a shame. And I hate to sound like I'm writing a long indictment of our society and political leadership. Ultimately I'm not that discouraged, but that's not because of our collective reaction to 9/11, rather it's despite it.
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