Thursday, September 11, 2008

Baby's first 9/11

Phoebe was born six years after the towers came down. She won't be one of those New York kids who is defined by this tragedy. I'm sure she will learn about it, eventually, but what will I tell her about that day? At the time, it was so gigantic, so overwhelming to think people would plot to do us harm. Before 2001, we lived in a bubble of American inertia. We knew full well that the world is full of terror and the people who peddle it, but never quite believed it would strike us so forcefully. The fact that the Towers had been hit in 1993 and that our embassies and ships had been targeted did not wake us from our slumber. 9/11 did. And now, seven years later, the day that was supposed to change everything is starting to fade in our public consciousness. Despite the fact that the collective grief and anger we felt that day launched two wars, two terms for George W. Bush and the subsequent demise of our economy and our standing in the world, our outrage seems to simmer only on the far left. We are on the verge of electing a new President, and yet the policies of the government that brought us our current disaster state seems to be paying little price. Both candidates have co-opted the mantle of change- because they know that is what people want- yet change may come in a package that looks like more of the same. Yet on today, of all days, if people cannot see how we were manipulated, lied to, and brought into a deep state of debt, they will never see until the empire has gone the way of the Aztecs and Romans and Egyptians who once ruled the world and lost it all to hubris and arrogance.

This is my first 9/11 as a mother. And since Phoebe came into my world, I want nothing more than to protect her from all harm. She is someone who came from a country who outlasted us (and many others) in wars on their soil. She is a survivor, as are we all. I brought her here because I think New York City is the greatest city on earth to live in. It is a place where all outsiders are welcome, where every color of the rainbow is reflected on the faces you see every day. New York represents the ultimate freedom to be and say and do what you please. In truth, it is the ultimate American City for those ideals, and yet, it is not an accurate representation of America. Most towns are not as diverse. In the big open places of America they love freedom too, but often value sameness. They might think their values are different than ours, but we are the true Libertarians; be what and who you want to be. Accept those around you. Do good and do well. In theory, I'm sure most people would agree. And yet in a season of Political change, fear seems to to rule over ideas. My optimistic heart holds out hope for real change this time around. To live to see a Barak Obama at the top of a ticket and even Sarah Palin as the no. 2 on hers, shows how far we've come. Sadly, politics divides the country every time. People back into their corners and hunker down for the fight. At least on 9/11 we can try to remember that we're all on the same side.

Someday, I will tell Phoebe about that day. I will tell her how the whole world watched and how everyone came together. I will tell her how our apartment was filled with friends who had to leave their homes and how kindly her Grandparents were treated in France when they could not return home from Paris. I will tell her how I cried in Union Square looking at the posters of those who were missing and how I sang Amazing Grace on the boardwalk with complete strangers who mourned like one family. Many bad things did spring from that day, but the good in people could be seen everywhere. I'll tell her that.

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