Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Decade Later: Too Soon.

I’ll say it--it’s still too soon.

Scrolling on the DVR guide, I saw that MSNBC was replaying some of the actual coverage from the morning of September 11, 2001. While an invaluable artifact for history, I cannot imagine re-watching that footage.

That morning, the radio news was reporting a plane hitting a building in New York City in the car en route to my Spanish class at UT. Nothing was out of the ordinary. Until I got into the classroom and most of the class was there (mandatory attendance, so that wasn‘t strange), but the TV was on and everyone was transfixed watching the towers burn. Our professor came in and made us turn it off. Even at that time we were scared and interested, but not terrified.

Terrified came in the Jester dorm TV area, where I found my boyfriend in a group of people who were rooted to the spot, some seconds from their own dorm rooms and all seconds from even a larger TV lounge. The final tower fell. Everyone in the crowd was aghast. Many were shaking and crying.

By the end of the morning, we were acutely aware that the world had changed.

I spent weeks watching the news in a way I never had before. Obsessively. About this time, I also got sick and was strung out on sinus meds, watching post 9-11 coverage.

So, this time, I will have to pass on reliving that dawning horror and confusion and watching the coverage from 2001. The other morning, Good Morning America aired audio from the cockpit of the hijacking. Even that felt too soon--almost as though we, the living, have no right to eavesdrop, to be tourists, to be voyeurs into the last minutes of those flights.

Even now, when there is the music for a Breaking News update interrupting anything, anytime, I feel tingles of dread--naivety is gone for good.

Looking back over the decade, I am thankful that I was in college at the time of the attacks--the academic culture, on-campus debates, and subsequent anti-war protests required that you be educated on your viewpoints and beliefs, because you could count on being called to defend your position, whatever it was. And naturally, being a liberal arts major, I was required to spend a lot of time in mandatory “discussion sections”. (I can still picture my nemesis, a Limbaugh doppelganger who was in all of my government classes.)

A decade later, there is still no wrapping your mind around the horror of the loss of life. Currently in my Yoga practice, one of the principles that I have been studying is “asteya”, roughly translated into “non-stealing”. In the Yoga practice, asteya is not as straightforward as “thou shall not steal”. Practicing asteya also means being worthy and ready to accept good fortune. It means nothing goes to waste; to waste is to steal.

We have to be worthy. Worthy of the loss of life of ordinary Americans trying to earn money to feed their families, of the first responders, of the sacrifices of our men and women in the military and their families. Worthy of the loss we all sustained.

As a people, as a country, are we worthy of their sacrifices? What about when the biggest applause line at a Presidential debate is cheering on the exorbitant number of Texas executions? When 1 in 3 homeless men are veterans? When we are legislating hatefully whose love gets legal status?

In 2001, America had a long way to fall. In 2011, we have a long way to go.