The Day Nothing Really Changed, Except…

One heartbeat leads to another, and is as intimate as anything we ever experience.
One heartbeat leads to another, and is as intimate as anything we ever experience.

This could be about 09/11, the day the stock market crashed in 1929, the day Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated, the day of the Murrah Building bombing in Oklahoma City, or any other landmark day in the history of human cruelty.

While the tragedy of 9/11 had a catastrophic effect on the morale and psyche of the world, and innocent humans lost their lives, what it did not have was an actual, mensurate, concrete effect on the world. No power plants were destroyed. No fleets of battleships were sunk. No capitols were seized.

That’s why the 9/11 attacks, and all acts of terrorism, are fundamentally flawed.

When I say that “nothing really changed,” I am referring to the biggest picture, of the whole world.

I talk about this big picture to remind us all that even if individual presidents or senators are killed, or even if power plants or dams are leveled, we are still here. We are still alive, still strong, and if we choose wisely, we are still a free society. I talk about it to remind you that the next time an envelope of anthrax shows up at a college professor’s door or a mall is evacuated because of a bomb threat, don’t panic. It’s such a simple message, but panic is too tempting to resist sometimes. Panic makes selfish bastards out of people we liked five minutes before, and I have an example: by 2 p. m. on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, I photographed lines of cars that stretched down the street and out of site, full of people who were buying gasoline. They bought that gasoline even though it might have been needed by the military or the police or the fire department. Their own needs were second to no one, not the nation, not the people, not freedom.

And the threats didn’t change on those days. Did the Murrah bombing suddenly result in the militia movement? Did 9/11 suddenly make Afghanistan a center for terrorists? Did Pearl Harbor suddenly turn Japan into a dangerous imperialist entity? No. Those things were already there, and we pretended not to notice.

In the end, I guess where I am going with this is that we spend most of our time with our heads in the political and global sand. It isn’t until something dramatic (and lately televised) happens to kick us in the butt that we pull our heads out for a while, dangerously uninformed because of where our heads were, yelling for this attack and that invasion and so forth. Sadly, that’s what it will take in the future, too, and I predict that it will probably be in North Korea or Iran.

So give this all some thought, and instead of hoarding canned goods and ammo, see if you can find a way to enlighten the world around you, and enlighten your self so these kinds of things will happen less often, and so that when they do, you will be generous and sane.

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