Today, with the crisp promise of autumn in the trees and the normal hum and growl of a regular Monday in my ears, it was only natural that I’d think life was good. The heat of this oppressive summer, while not over, was suspended, and the mundane tasks that fill my waking hours were more than manageable. It was going to be a good week.
And then I looked at the calendar, and realized that tomorrow is 9/11, eleven years out. The cool, sun-dappled air was the same as it was on the day that the towers fell, a day so exquisite that had it not marked the single most horrific attack of the last fifty years, it would have been remembered by for its late-summer glory. And for those few moments, before I realized that we had come full circle one more year, it almost seemed as if forgetting was possible.
And of course, it’s not. I am not the person that I was on September 10, 2001. Older but not wiser, I no longer expect the best of people, my Sagittarian optimism and naivete sharpened into cynicism. I see enemies now where, before, I only saw those with differences of opinion. And that’s because it seems you can no longer have simple differences of opinion in this post-9/11 world.
When I write something that criticizes one side, as I did last week and often do, I now get emails calling me all sorts of vile names. When I post something that challenges the belief systems of otherwise rational human beings, I see the comments on the websites and realize that anonymity gives courage to cowards, but not intelligence to idiots.
I wish that 9/11 had never happened, not only because of the horrors visited upon innocents. I wish that it had never changed the way I view the world, erasing forever the perspective that we could all ultimately come together and agree on what was best for our country and our people even though we had to trudge through some difficult terrain to do so. I no longer believe that.
And that is another casualty of 9/11. That, and the ability to enjoy a glorious day in early September.