Rick's Ramblings

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I have been writing in this space for a few years now. Visit the archives to get a feel for my style.

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Tuesday, September 10, 2002
September 11, 2001. Nine eleven. 9/11.

I feel that the nation is still too close to 9/11 to extract broader lessons, although we're trying. I still feel concern that as a nation, our leadership isn't exploring the roots of the hatred that ultimately resulted in these attacks. Is this our wake-up call? Then what is it a wake-up call for? To rely less on oil? To be mindful of our culture's manifest destiny, and how it might alienate other cultures?

9/11 will serve to remind everyone that the current affairs of the United States are on a world scale. Our affairs and our values were somehow repugnant enough for some militants to plow airliners into a building full of people. Why? And more importantly, how do we diffuse the hatred?

I hate what these terrorists have done. But I don't hate who these terrorists are, do I? Do we? Aren't they human, like me? Hands, feet, heart, brains. Don't they breathe the same air I do? Aren't we all part of the human race?

History can be seen as waves of hatred between humans. These waves, these swells, form a rough and raging sea that over time becomes calm, after we learn about who we hate. Who were the Indians? The African Americans? Who were the Japanese? Who were the Irish? The Italian? The Polish? We, as Americans, learned who they were. Hate gives way. Until the next wave.

Today, we're threatening to act on Iraq, a Muslim nation. What is our goal here? To punish a man for building weapons of mass destruction? OK, but we better not be acting out of a hatred towards a people we barely know.

How do we diffuse hatred? I don't know. It's easier to act locally (i.e. to control my-self). But how do we as a country diffuse this hatred? How does our government diffuse hatred?

A hateful act took place on 9/11. Are we adding fuel to this fire?

For people in my demographic (early thirties), 9/11 will be our 12/7 (December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor). But unlike 12/7, 9/11 has a resonance that's aided by the deep offerings of our modern media. There will be so many ways, so many angles, so many television channels (!) to remember what happened that fateful day last year. Last year!

CBS will be rebroadcasting 9/11, a film by Frenchmen Jules and Gedeon Naudet, and I highly recommend watching this. The brothers were filming a documentary about firefighters, when both suddenly found themselves in the middle of "the most audacious attacks" the United States has ever seen. It's chilling to watch the footage from inside the towers that terrible day.

Last Sunday, the NY Times ran a magnificent article about the building of the World Trade Center. It's a mind boggling story. There was a tremendous amount of political fighting surrounding the project. There were also struggles in designing and then building this landmark. The frightening thought of an airplane striking the towers was actually articulated in 1968 by one of the owners of the Empire State Building, Lawrence Wien. The authors James Glanz and Eric Lipton suggest that the towers could have been safer, in its design, and in its construction. Super writing. The kind of article that I wish could have been longer.

Sunday, September 08, 2002
The US basketball team is out of the medal round in this weekend's World Basketball Championship. Yugoslavia and Argentina are playing for the gold medal. Both of these teams beat the US in this tournament.