Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Somber Decree

I write a column for When Falls the Coliseum every Tuesday -- the link is at the right. It is a satirical, often Dante-esque thing in which I utter "decrees" as self-proclaimed "Emperor of the World." Most of them are silly -- they start with a social problem that I decree against and then a punishment (the Dante-esque part) is given for violators of the decree. Yesterday, I spoke to 9/11 with an unusually solemn decree. I thought I would cross post it here for readers of H&R. -- Chris

I have been declared Emperor of the World. Let us not waste time explaining why or how; let’s all simply accept the fact that we are better off, as a result; hence, my next decree:

Emperor’s Decree No. 911: We should always remember 9/11, but not with patriotic pep rallies and not with fist-pumping; for, on this day, the extremist obsessions and narrow-minded religious views of a few arrogant, evil bastards resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent people at the Word Trade Center in New York City, in a horrific crash in Shanksville, Pa., and at the Pentagon, in Washington, DC. On this day, trembling fathers wept into phones, saying goodbye to their children and wives, having given up, knowing that there was no way down or out, fighting not to sound terrified through the line — knowing that this final goodbye was worth trading away a last, useless burst of hope. On this day, wives did the same, fighting preservation instincts for a few seconds’ contact with their husbands and babies. And on this day, horrible circumstances made men and women who were just doing their duty into legends of self-sacrifice. This is the day when a thousand stories of strength and courage were passionately written, only to be sucked down in a cascade of molten metal and poison dust, never to be read by anyone. This was the day on which a new generation of children learned that grown-ups could actually take civilian life and expect sainthood in return.

This was the day of Allah’s misery. This was the day that, if God can cry, there must have been a hurricane in heaven — his tears like bullets in raging winds; angels covering their heads with trembling wings —  for a humankind that had turned him into a goal line to be crossed; a prize to be quibbled over; a concept for which to slaughter; a cause for torture and alienation.

So, let’s not remember that day with airbrushed paintings of American Eagles crushing symbolic enemies. Let’s not remember it with chants of “don’t f$%k with the US of A” or with moronic songs about beer, barbecues and ass-whoopings for anyone in an ethnic outfit.

Let’s remember it by thinking things over — by figuring out how we’re going to stop people from turning scrolls and scriptures and borders into excuses for human butchery — but not by blowing them to bits.
Let’s not scream for violence meeting violence; let’s ponder babies who have grown up without moms and dads, all over the world and across time, because someone thought he was more right than someone else who more or less believed the same thing.

Let’s remember it by hoping — maybe even praying — that things will change. We can go back to blowing each other up tomorrow. Today, let’s just quietly weep for all the violence we have done to each other and for those we lost that day.

The Punishment: Violators (and, the Emperor admits, only a small number of Americans are fist-pumping pep-ralliers) will be forced to look into a magic mirror that turns their reflections into the faces of their enemies. (In some cases, a heavy-handed metaphor is necessary.)

1 comment:

  1. Your words paint a poignant picture… one that I remember all too well.

    There is a Facebook petition going around about creating a National Holiday for 9/11. As well intentioned as that may seem I think it is misplaced. We ALWAYS need to remember what happened on that day, and I believe most everyone will. However, by doing so in the form of a day off from work or school, seems that this will turn a global tragedy into just another way for people to sleep in, gain a 3 day weekend or host a BBQ. To me that just seems wrong.

    For the past 8 years my Girl Scouts have come together a day or 2 before 9/11 to bake cookies and make thank you cards to ship overseas to our military Troops 4 Troops recipients and especially for our PD, FD & Ambulance Squads (our local First Responders). Regardless of the day of the week, we deliver the cookies & cards ON 9/11 to those worthy recipients. This is how we honor those lost. By remembering them and thanking those left behind who pick up where they left off; honoring their ideals and continuing to forge ahead regardless of the risk. The ones who in the face of potential death, run toward danger while the rest of us flee in the opposite direction.

    How many people did anything yesterday but watch the news, put up patriotic postings or shed a tear in remembrance or in honor of those victims? A holiday? I don't think so. Look at Veteran's Day. My school used to have the day off and my family never did anything patriotic or to honor those who served, fought and died for this country. Besides, I don't know that I agree with celebrating a tragedy of that magnitude. If so, why doesn't John F. Kennedy have a holiday (okay so he has an entire airport named for him so really who needs a day but whatever :-) Growing up, I always heard and believed I understood the somber voices, the shaking downward heads and the saddened eyes when my parents and grandparents spoke of the assignation of JFK. 9/11 taught me that I knew nothing. Maybe I sympathized but it wasn't until that glorious clear bright Tuesday morning I had awoken to - that turned horrific before my very eyes did a switch click in my mind. This was our Kennedy. This is the tragedy that every person old enough to recall will be able to tell you exactly what we were doing, where we had been, what we had seen and our impressions of it all for the rest of our lives. That is a cause to mourn; to remember; to appreciate; and most importantly to serve in whatever way we can.

    I guess what it all boils down to is that you most definitely have my hope, my tears and especially my prayers that the peaceful (along with the meek :-) shall inherit the earth. God bless!!