What happened to our memory?
When the events of September 11th occurred, it changed the world. It was a horrible change, but it did bring some unity to our country. Suddenly we were united against one enemy. I was in Washington DC at the time, and I can honestly say that people just got nicer, even if it was only in the congested Washington DC traffic. People waved, allowed you to merge in front of them, made room, consideration for fellow humans prevailed… suddenly. We were all in shock.
I have written about this before…. I saw the Pentagon burning. I saw cars pulled over on the side of the freeway – people lining up at phone booths (we had them at this time) to call their loved ones. Cell phones weren’t as common, but if you did have one, you could not get through to anyone. I remember worrying about my family in California and what attack might be coming their way at the various federal buildings in which they worked. It was still early morning for them. I wanted to warn them not to go in to work.
But it really didn’t hit me until I was back at my small studio apartment in Alexandria, Virginia and watched on my giant clunky television (we had those at this time) the extremely tall buildings being toppled by airplanes. I had just seen these buildings in person, for the first time in my life, just weeks prior on a trip to New York. I remember thinking how tall the buildings were – they almost made me dizzy just looking up at them – they were THAT tall.
I saw people jumping out or falling out of these tall towers. It still makes me tear up to think about what I saw that day.
I kept wondering, what was it like to be at your office, working as a clerk or secretary, or any other average office employee… and to look out the window and see a commercial airliner coming straight for you. That was the image I had in my mind. Did anyone actually see it or was it just so quick that no one saw it coming? I guess you wouldn’t know unless you were in that situation. And those people are gone. This is just how my brain works, I picture myself in the other person’s position.
Since March 2020 life changed dramatically for most of us – if you were in California as I was, your life changed dramatically more than people in other states in the US because of the extreme measures that were taken. But there were no planes hitting towers. There was footage coming out of Wuhan, China showing death and quarantining of people, due to a leak of a virus – COVID-19 or what we then called corona virus. Then we quickly saw the statistics in Italy, which has one of the oldest populations in the world, of the deaths due to the corona virus.
People freaked out. In California, parents locked their kids inside the house. I still have the image of a child’s writing on a window in my neighborhood etched in my mind. It said “Can I go to the Out now?” We were told we had to mask up. We had one of the first mask mandates in the country in our small desert town. Playgrounds were promptly roped off with tape. People were actually calling 9-1-1 on people who dared walk in the neighborhood with no masks. It was an extreme reaction, and frankly, I wasn’t buying it.
I tried to sound the alarm. I was shouted down by the most vocal and loud minority in our society. Nobody was listening. I’m guess I’m just not loud enough.
Now, as I can think of the positive that came from the horrible events of September 11th, small as they may have been – they were human. But, I cannot think of any one positive thing that has come from this COVID pandemic hysteria. In fact, it is quite the opposite. People are ruder, less humane, and more division and hatred exists now than before. There is more visceral hatred.
People don’t even seem to WANT to get along. They treat each other – and even worse, our children – as lepers. They believe everyone carries this virus, dormant inside, and somehow we can all infect each other – sort of like a zombie apocalypse movie. Everyone is a big germ.
I see people now embracing awkward elbow bumps instead of shaking hands. People avert eyes as their mask-covered faces quickly look down at the ground. Where I used to imagine getting involved in the PTA or volunteering at schools, for instance, I now feel uncomfortable and frankly, unwelcome. It’s as if I am a walking disease just waiting to make everyone sick. And my children are too.
Why would anyone be wary of me ? My vaccine passport wouldn’t fit in a large suitcase – I have had vaccinations that many reading this have never even heard of.
Now, I could have gotten by thinking this is just temporary, but we are going on two years of this. Where does it end?
After September 11th I had friends (yes, it was California) who claimed that President Bush had orchestrated the attacks and it was all made up, like a Hollywood movie. They had all these conspiracy theories. I was horrified listening to them. Now, I’ve seen this conspiracy theory theme twisted around. The original conspiracy theorists are now telling people how to think. These same people will tell you there has never been a pandemic in our lifetimes. These people will also tell you we’ve never had two or three hurricanes lined up in the ocean at a time ever before.
I even had one clearly deranged individual tell me that the people in those towers that day deserved “what they got”. That the problem was how rich all those people who worked in the towers were. It didn’t matter to this person that the majority of the people in their office early in the morning were not the mega-rich, they were the clerical workers, secretaries and mid-level managers. Either way, being “rich” does not justify being murdered by terrorists.
Where once, aside from the obvious nut jobs mentioned above, we stood together after a horrible terrorist attack on our country, now it seems it’s every man for himself. Parents of older children are not concerned with the effects of masking on our youngest children – because it doesn’t affect them directly. If it doesn’t affect them, they don’t want to get involved or even hear about it. They hide their heads in the sand. The small, loud minority of shrieking voices rules the day.
“It’s just the way it is now.”
It is only that way if you continue to allow it to be that way.
On this Patriot Day, let’s remember.