It is so easy to get distracted in this life. So incredibly easy to have your gaze pulled away from The Big Picture. To get caught up in bullshit and forget to focus on That Which Truly Matters.
I had absolutely no intention of mentioning 9/11 in this blog today. In fact, if I remember right, I bet if you searched the archives of this humble blog, you'd find not a single mention of that day. And today on its five year anniversary, I had no more intention of writing about it than I did yesterday or the day before or last St. Patrick's Day. It's not that I intentially set out to not write about it, but seeing as how nearly every story on NPR this morning, and over half of the headlines in my blog reader today were 9/11 related, I just felt no need to add mine to the 17 megatons of voices already going on about it from all sides. And folks, now that I've brought that day up, I wouldn't blame you a bit if you stopped reading right now.
Cuz see, I sorta changed my mind about not blogging about 9/11. And since it's late in the day on 9/11, most of you won't read this until 9/12 at the earliest.
See I was coming back from running an errand on my lunch hour today, and I was singing along with one of my favorite songs:
Man I was singing it, the kind of uninhibited belting that somebody like me can only achieve when sealed away in the solitude of their vehicle. Or when drunk. And at this point, I was not thinking about 9/11. I didn't have the above video scrolling by in front of my eyes. I wasn't thinking about crumbling buildings or bombs or children with seared flesh or the sound of a uniformed voice telling you that your kids no longer have a father/mother. I was probably only thinking about getting back to the office so I could eat my sandwich and then slog through the rest of the day so I could go home. Except then I came around a corner and I saw a flag at half mast, and I thought "why's that flag...?" but before I finished asking the question, I remembered yet again what day it was, and it was right at the part of the song where he mentions good men being trampled down "just to settle a bet that could not be won between a prideful father and his son." And right there in my car, music blaring, grief washed over me like a fucking tidal wave.
Typically, whenever the subject of 9/11 comes up, I roll my eyes. It's not that I don't see it as an unspeakable tragedy, because it is. It's just that I tend to let my focus get stuck on the political side of things...which is ironic since I always get angry whenever I hear about blatant politicizing of that day...so yes, I get angry a lot. And as its anniversary approached, the only thing I really thought about was how our idiot President would once again use it as an opportunity to tell us how great his war is going and how we have to watch out for terrorists around every corner while he pretends that he gives two shits about the deaths that his war has caused. Meanwhile the left and the right will continue to hash it out all the way up to election day. The political blogs will keep firing away. And people will keep dying.
But today, I don't know why exactly, but something hit me, something well beyond politics. I don't know if it was the song or my mood or what, but all I've been able to think about since I found myself tearing up uncontrollably in the car this afternoon is all the death and grief and rage and hurt that led up to that day, that happened on that day, and that have stemmed from that day. Death built on lies built on tragedy built on hate built on...shit, where does it stop? The sheer number of people dead, the number of loved ones left behind.
So if we're going to remember 9/11, let's remember every last bit of it. Every last life lost. The victims in the towers and in the planes and in the Pentagon. The first responders. Every soldier and civilian killed in the ensuing wars, no matter what side they were on. And while I'm at it, every poor uneducated Middle Eastern kid who gets duped into strapping a bomb to his chest by a charismatic psychopath with a carefully edited version of the Qur'an. And the sorrow of every loved one who will mourn them until the day they die. Because, as I so easily forget sometimes, it's about people, not politics. And it's not just the loss of American life that's a tragedy. It all is.