Sunday, September 9, 2007


My local newspaper, The Daily Times [Salisbury, Maryland], ran a front page story today that was hardly a scoop. It tells the sad story of the rapidly fading corporate remembrance of the events of September 11, 2001.

In the years immediately following 2001, September 11 was marked by well-attended memorial events, both secular and religious. But in more recent years, poor attendance resulted in the cancellation of most community 9/11 memorial events. I attended an excellent worship service today but their was no mention of the impending anniversary of the terrorists’ attack on America. This year’s observances shall be confined to first-responders’ organizations.

Why has this happened? It certainly didn’t happen following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. How can we so quickly forget such a cataclysmic event in United States history that occurred just six years ago?

It would be simple to find the answers in some sweeping analysis of society. However, I think the answers are much simpler; I think it is found in two of the primary causes of forgetfulness.

Stress: We all live in a stress-packed environment. No matter your age or occupation we are all under immense stress. If you are a student, you’ve got the stress of being socially accepted, studying to be able to pass the state examinations, and the hectic schedule of sports practices and music lessons. If you’re a parent, you’ve got all of your kids’ schedules to keep in addition to keeping your job so you can pay the mortgage, car payment, and credit card bills. Ask a farm family dealing with this year’s devastating drought, they can tell you about stress. If you’re a retiree, you’ve got the stress of worrying about your pension, your health, and trying to figure out how to fit into a world where everything is changing.

Get the idea? We are all so stressed with the challenges of real life that we can’t seem to take the time or have the energy to look at the bigger picture which includes the post-September 11th world in which we are living.

What’s more, if we keep the vivid memory of the ugly realities of 9/11, then we are forced to face the fact of how vulnerable we all are to such attacks today. Even after spending billions of dollars, it is doubtful that you and I are any safer from attacks by suicidal fanatics.
It would seem we’ve taken the Scarlet O’Hara approach to dealing with hard and uncomfortable facts: “I’ll worry about that tomorrow!”

Fatigue: A related problem to stress is fatigue. Fatigue and stress feed on each other like an emotion atomic reaction, one intensifies the other.

Everyone is fatigued these days. Like stress, fatigue afflicts every age group. Children are getting less sleep because of long hours of school, soccer, and homework. Adults find they have so much to do that the only way they can even come close to keeping all their commitments is to use time they would normally sleep. We are people who are physically exhausted—that’s one reason for the skyrocketing popularity of the new energy drinks and high-octane Starbuck’s coffee. In spite of these, fatigue causes us to limit ourselves to dealing with the most immediate and personal matters. We just don’t have the energy to worry about the world at large.

Another kind of fatigue that is also making us forgetful about 9/11: war fatigue. We have been fighting the Iraq War longer than we fought World War II yet a victorious conclusion seems nowhere in sight. Instead, it seems to be never-ending. We are weary of trying to fight terrorism by being in league with corrupt Iraqi politicians, an inept Iraqi army, and an Iraqi population that seems more devoted to settling ancient tribal grudges than they are to defeating global terrorists. We are simply tired of the Iraq War which we said we were fighting as payback for 9/11.

Remembering 9/11 only makes us more frustrated and fatigued, so we choose to stop remembering.

Until the next attack happens.

The words of philosopher George Santayana will echo on Tuesday “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”


swampcritter2 said...

You meant to say George Santayana in your last post didn't you, Bruce? Hey you'll learn to hate me too.

TomCat said...

Excellent post, glad to see you are posting more often.