A number of emergency. A day of remembering.

People often say that we have never been more unified than after 9.11. I guess that depends on “who,” you were. As I recall, “we,” began placing a magnifying glass on people who were “different.” Remember that?

Remember. Six years ago I was waking up and sipping coffee when a friend called us to say that the Pentagon had been hit. It was a school day, but we were late, entranced and shocked by the images shown on TV. Walking into class, I realized most people were only catching wind of the attacks. Within two hours, most of our student body were huddling in the auditorium. As a political science student, I participated in discussions of this travesty for years to come-even taking a “Homeland Security and Terrorism” class my senior year. I woke up thinking of that moment today, as most Americans are, in some way, reflecting on where they were September 11, 2001.

I just want to ask that as a human race, we learn to experience unity without tragedy. Without fear pushing us towards one another. “Point two fingers” is my personal framework. That means before I hoot and holler about Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, our corrupt political system, big business, consumer whores, extremists, and close minded people in general, I point one finger at them and one at myself. This allows me to question, “What can I do? What changes can I make?” “What is my role in this?” And often times, doing so creates a deliberate patience to see both sides. To me, that’s what a “WE” space is all about. We might not agree, but we are giving each other a chance to be heard. See, I don’t like feeling like a victim-feeling powerless and fearful just isn’t my cup of tea.

If I ran around pointing one finger all the time, I would pretty much be blaming someone else all the time, which pretty much means I would be a victim all the time. And I’m not having it. We are all accountable for the decisions we make. Thing is, it’s hard to step forward and speak out. It’s safer in numbers. Once 9.11 hit, we adopted a “For Us or Against Us,” mentality that only further squelched free speech and dissent. Remember? And if you think back far enough, you will recall that the first partriots, our founding fathers, were actually dissenters. If you haven’t noticed, my perspective out here on the road is to show you what your fellow Americans are thinking. To create a forum where we can celebrate diversity

I would like to tell you about the two major sentiments I have come across while traveling. The first; total support for the war because otherwise, terrorists will again wreak havoc on our soil. It’s based on fear of another 9.11. It’s based on retribution and a classic protective instinct. Most people who tell me this viewpoint overlook that theoretically, Homeland Security was put in place to prevent a reoccurring attack of that proportion. At least, I think that’s why I now willing acquiesce my time in line at the airport and my civilian rights to privacy. They also overlook that in this war, we haven’t really wiped out anything other than our own soldiers and the next generation of Iraqi’s.

“We need to destroy those countries in interest of national security”
“We have to finish this off or else those countries will see our withdraw as a sign of defeat”
“Look at 9.11, we had to go to war to stop the growing terrorist threat.”

And, quite honestly, yes, we were all stunned. And we identified with one another through that grief. Eyes locked in line at a store and exchanged support. Money poured in .(though, Remember- the Red Cross was charged with fraud for its management) I was stunned not just because we lost two beacons that stood tall as financial lighthouses, but by the SHEER LOSS OF LIFE. No matter who engineered it. Lives were lost. And lives are still being lost in this war. I suspect that Iraqi’s are bound together by the same feeling of unity under our attacks as we were by Al-Q’s attacks.

The other sentiment I hear is that 9.11 is a fraud. On this trip, I hear it ALL THE TIME. I mean, seriously, every place I go, people tell me they don’t believe the attacks were engineered by terrorist cells alone-that the elite parts of our government assisted. And like it or not, I am presenting to you the beliefs of your fellow Americans. Most big events I attend have at least two people holding up signs that 9.11 was a fraud, and designed as a catalyst for this war, and to create unprecedented executive and legislative powers. There are now quite a few documentaries and books out about the subject, and I encourage you to educate yourself on the topic.
And yes, some of the funding that created the devastation, can be traced back to the U.S. Government. Like it or not. It might have been a plan back in the 80’s that obviously backfired, but the government funded ol’ “Al-Q.” Remember? Just that fact is what makes remembering so damn confusing. International Relations just ain’t easy, huh?

This sentiment, too, originates from a place of fear and frustration. It’s what binds the two opposing viewpoints-fear. When our people doubt their government this much-what does that mean? And before you call them crazy-you should know people everywhere think this. Someone you share a laugh with over coffee or take lunch with at work. For years I have heard these whispers of disbelief-and they are only growing louder. Which means the people are less confident in their government. Holding up a sign and shouting it was a fraud just doesn’t solve it, though. That fear is running deep in our country like a tumor. And those people with signs are looking for unity so they can operate on the tumor.

So, today when I hear “Remember, 9.11” I become confused. I wonder how to resolve things like a terrorist attack through King’s principles of non-violence. I recognize how tricky it is. I wonder how we could have avoided war by utilizing principles of non violence. It would be a whole new approach to foreign policy, but hey, these are new times. If we all stopped holding onto the fear that separates us, maybe we could envision solutions.

Let it now be a number of emergence. We need help. Help to find our way out of these dark times, through the muddled issues that prevent equality and justice FOR ALL.

I plead to you that we might find unity together as a nation without it taking a tragedy.

Remember. Last year, at Omega, we had a 24 hour fire in honor of the lives lost. It was a very special time. I held the honor of last hour shift as fire keeper. I clearly recall the early morning sun and tender, sleepy faces that joined hands with me and said a prayer. I am remembering that unity, all of us present at the ceremony for different reasons, but taking the time to say a prayer for the brave-and to be brave ourselves.

So, I pulled into Crescent City a few minutes ago. I’ve been trying to type this up while chairs and tables were pulled out from under me. As I pulled into California and saw signs for the Redwoods, Ani Difranco was playing on the iPod- her cover of “This Land is Our Land.” And it really just hit me how much I love this country. And so tonight, I’m going “walking through the redwood forest.” I’m loosing the internet and going to meditate in those majestic forests-the Cathedral of trees. I hope you join me today, in envisioning a better future. It’s also a new moon today, a good time to be introspective and state your personal intentions for the next month.

I also thought of Ani D’s poem, Self-Evident, about the WTC disaster, so I’m going to paste it here. Like it or not. It’s another perspective. Try to just appreciate that we designed this country for people to have freedom of perspective.
I love you-Alix

Self Evident, by Ani Difranco
us people are just poems
we’re 90% metaphor
with a leanness of meaning
approaching hyper-distillation
and once upon a time
we were moonshine
rushing down the throat of a giraffe
yes, rushing down the long hallway
despite what the p.a. announcement says
yes, rushing down the long stairs
with the whiskey of eternity
fermented and distilled
to eighteen minutes
burning down our throats
down the hall
down the stairs
in a building so tall
that it will always be there
yes, it’s part of a pair
there on the bow of Noah’s ark
the most prestigious couple
just kickin back parked
against a perfectly blue sky
on a morning beatific
in its Indian summer breeze
on the day that America
fell to its knees
after strutting around for a century
without saying thank you
or please

and the shock was subsonic
and the smoke was deafening
between the setup and the punch line
cuz we were all on time for work that day
we all boarded that plane for to fly
and then while the fires were raging
we all climbed up on the windowsill
and then we all held hands
and jumped into the sky

and every borough looked up when it heard the first blast
and then every dumb action movie was summarily surpassed
and the exodus uptown by foot and motorcar
looked more like war than anything I’ve seen so far
so far
so far
so fierce and ingenious
a poetic specter so far gone
that every jackass newscaster was struck dumb and stumbling
over ‘oh my god’ and ‘this is unbelievable’ and on and on
and I’ll tell you what, while we’re at it
you can keep the pentagon
keep the propaganda
keep each and every TV
that’s been trying to convince me
to participate
in some prep school punk’s plan to perpetuate retribution
perpetuate retribution
even as the blue toxic smoke of our lesson in retribution
is still hanging in the air
and there’s ash on our shoes
and there’s ash in our hair
and there’s a fine silt on every mantle
from hell’s kitchen to Brooklyn
and the streets are full of stories
sudden twists and near misses
and soon every open bar is crammed to the rafters
with tales of narrowly averted disasters
and the whiskey is flowin
like never before
as all over the country
folks just shake their heads
and pour

so here’s a toast to all the folks who live in Palestine

El Salvador

here’s a toast to the folks living on the pine ridge reservation
under the stone cold gaze of mt. Rushmore

here’s a toast to all those nurses and doctors
who daily provide women with a choice
who stand down a threat the size of Oklahoma City
just to listen to a young woman’s voice

here’s a toast to all the folks on death row right now
awaiting the executioner’s guillotine
who are shackled there with dread and can only escape into their heads
to find peace in the form of a dream

cuz take away our playstations
and we are a third world nation
under the thumb of some blue blood royal son
who stole the oval office and that phony election
I mean
it don’t take a weatherman
to look around and see the weather
Jeb said he’d deliver Florida, folks
and boy did he ever

and we hold these truths to be self evident:
#1 George W. Bush is not president
#2 America is not a true democracy
#3 the media is not fooling me
cuz I am a poem heeding hyper-distillation
I’ve got no room for a lie so verbose
I’m looking out over my whole human family
and I’m raising my glass in a toast

here’s to our last drink of fossil fuels
let us vow to get off of this sauce
shoo away the swarms of commuter planes
and find that train ticket we lost
cuz once upon a time the line followed the river
and peeked into all the backyards
and the laundry was waving
the graffiti was teasing us
from brick walls and bridges
we were rolling over ridges
through valleys
under stars
I dream of touring like Duke Ellington
in my own railroad car
I dream of waiting on the tall blonde wooden benches
in a grand station aglow with grace
and then standing out on the platform
and feeling the air on my face

give back the night its distant whistle
give the darkness back its soul
give the big oil companies the finger finally
and relearn how to rock-n-roll
yes, the lessons are all around us and a change is waiting there
so it’s time to pick through the rubble, clean the streets
and clear the air
get our government to pull its big dick out of the sand
of someone else’s desert
put it back in its pants
and quit the hypocritical chants of
freedom forever

cuz when one lone phone rang
in two thousand and one
at ten after nine
on nine one one
which is the number we all called
when that lone phone rang right off the wall
right off our desk and down the long hall
down the long stairs
in a building so tall
that the whole world turned
just to watch it fall

and while we’re at it
remember the first time around?
the bomb?
the Ryder truck?
the parking garage?
the princess that didn’t even feel the pea?
remember joking around in our apartment on avenue D?

can you imagine how many paper coffee cups would have to change their design
following a fantastical reversal of the New York skyline?!

it was a joke, of course
it was a joke
at the time
and that was just a few years ago
so let the record show
that the FBI was all over that case
that the plot was obvious and in everybody’s face
and scoping that scene
the CIA
or is it KGB?
committing countless crimes against humanity
with this kind of eventuality
as its excuse
for abuse after expensive abuse
and it didn’t have a clue
look, another window to see through
way up here
on the 104th floor
another key
another door
10% literal
90% metaphor
3000 some poems disguised as people
on an almost too perfect day
must be more than poems
in some asshole’s passion play
so now it’s your job
and it’s my job
to make it that way
to make sure they didn’t die in vain
baby listen
hear the train?

One Reply to “9.11”

  1. I appreciate so many things about this posting.
    You brought up a very important point regarding the dichotomy of “unitedness” that the people of this country experienced–it VERY MUCH depended on who a person was, and it still does to a large extent.

    The recurring theme of pointing two fingers is crucial; At this point, political affiliation is no excuse for apathy.
    Exit strategy is a really pretty word. However words are cheap, and getting cheaper; and nothing is more a testimony to that than our (every single person who stands by and allows it) blatant disregard for our own constitution. The second our liberties became disposable, we ALL needed to take to the streets. We have traded freedom for freedom from fear…and yet we still live in fear.

    Thank you for exposing the views you have found on the road, it helps us to all be closer together when we hear each other clearly.

    Thank you for recognizing that DAILY attacks in Iraq, though easy enough to dismiss from this side of that big ocean, from this side of the WalMart counter, and the Gap rack; leave memories that scar as deeply as the ONE we can’t forget.

    Thank you for making a call for solidarity absent of tragedy and for putting it all into perspective.

    Finally, thank you for placing Ani’s words here. I hadn’t seen or heard this piece before, but it’s powerful and poignant and I’m grateful.

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