Sunday, September 11, 2016

What I'll never forget

Of course I will never forget that morning fifteen years ago today, walking into Mr. Carrick's English class to see a TV at the front and be told that someone had bombed one of the World Trade Center towers, and watching for the next two hours to learn how much worse the truth was than that. Of course I won't. I can't.

I don't think anyone who saw that day can ever forget it. Not while their mind is sound.

I've posted before about the fact that I don't believe remembering is enough - we've dropped the bar for ourselves far too low when all we ask is that we remember something. Especially something that we couldn't forget if we tried. Especially something that changed so much.

But even our bar for simply remembering has dropped too low. There are more things I think we should remember about today.

We should remember that the very human desire to mourn together can be turned into an intellectual weapon for demanding consensus and compliance.

We should remember that the very human fear triggered by being reminded of just how little we control the world can be turned into justification for quashing people with whom it's easy to forget how much we share just to feel like we control something. Arm bands and camps aren't the only things that diminish the humanity of others.

We should remember that that fear and demands for compliance and control stand in conflict to our uniquely human desire and propensity to cooperate in spite of and benefit from each other's differences - the very things that allowed us, so helpless individually as we might be against the world, to build the colossal concrete towers that we remember crumbling, impossibly and tragically, to the ground. 

We should remember to look around us every day and see all these marvels we build when we overcome our differences, tolerate uncertainty, take chances, and work together. Even when those marvels are just trivial little contrivances. Even when we think we should be pursuing something else. We should remember that those things are still amazing, and that they come from our equally marvellous interdependence.

We should remember what we can accomplish together when we give up direct control and rely instead on rules for cooperation without knowing exactly where cooperation will lead. We should remember how little we can accomplish alone, even though we might be able to feel like we're directing where we're going when we don't depend on each other.

We should remember that actually controlling the world to the point that we're all, always safe isn't an option.

It's incumbent on us not only to remember all of these things, but to learn as much as we can from them.

We remember the towers, the Pentagon, and Flight 93.

Of course we do.

But I, for one, refuse to let that memory become a tool for people who want to undo what we can accomplish together, and a waste in our quest to understand the world and each other.

1 comment:

Jon Murphy said...

Beautifully said