9.11.11 – A Reflection

I was a 15-year old kid sitting in Mrs. Giedt’s  science class. Our class heard that a plane had hit a skyscraper in Manhattan. I thought, “What kind of pilot doesn’t see a skyscraper right in front of him?”

I was innocent. I thought the pilot had just screwed up. So we turned the television on in the classroom. And about 30 seconds later, the second plane hit. And I was confused. I didn’t know what had happened or what this meant. Somebody in my class said we were at war, but this wasn’t what war was to me.

War was tanks and troops invading things. War wasn’t this. I remember the newscaster covering it talking about the terrorists responsible for this event and the girl sitting next to me at the lab table leaned over and asked me what a terrorist was. It’s crazy to look back and think about how our vocabulary has changed since then.

I definitely feel like it made me grow up faster. It, at least, shook me to a point where I had the thought that we’re not as safe as I had thought. Granted, growing up in Fargo, there wasn’t much for terrorists to attack, but that wasn’t even crossing my mind when the smoke was billowing out of both towers.

The most prevalent response in my high school was completely militant. We have an imperative to kill those who killed us. But I never bought into that. There had to be a different way to move forward that didn’t involve getting hostile with anyone who had a problem with America. I had an inclination things were a bit more complicated than that. And I still do. But I haven’t put my finger on it yet.

And maybe that’s the toughest part about the whole thing. It’s all so fluid. One of the things trauma theorists talk about is that when a traumatic event is actually happening, stimuli is coming in too fast for our brain to react. The part of our brain that acts as a timestamp on events is overrun. The events physically preclude comprehension. So then what happens is that when we try to move on, the events are still free to appear to us as if they’re a present reality.

So there is some aspect of us that can never feel completely safe. When that innocence gives way to the traumatic reality of the world as it is, there’s something that’s completely lost. And all we’re left to do is trying to help restore, not as a way of erasing the trauma of the events of 9/11, but as a way of moving forward so we can help positively contribute to a world that was broken right in front of our very eyes.

What’s your recollection of September 11th, 2001? Where were you? How are you feeling about it 10 years later?

Cheers,
Eric

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