I am, apparently, a soulless hull of what used to be a human being. Some kind of emotional zombie, perhaps. I may be the only American who is not grieving on September 11 (who is not also plotting against the government).

For full disclosure, I should state that I never grieved over what happened on September 11 two years ago. I attended no memorial services, then or now. I didn’t see the point — I was in no way personally affected by the events that transpired. I don’t know anyone who died. I don’t know anyone who knows anyone who died or was injured or in any way had their lives disrupted by the events of that day. (Taking your shoes off to walk through security at the airport does not constitute having your life disrupted.)

This day is not one of remembrance or mourning or really any significance to me, which I guess makes me inhumane. It’s difficult for me to sympathize with people affected by happenings that didn’t touch my life, except distantly, the way that when you pass an ambulance on the road, rushing to a hospital, you spare a fleeting thought for whomever is being transported. I do feel sorry for the people who were deeply affected by the tragedy, but I disagree with my fellow Americans who wail that “it happened to all of us.”

Perhaps part of the reason that I feel distanced from the emotion that swirls around September 11 is that I didn’t learn anything from it. I knew before the attacks that there was strong anti-American sentiment in the world. Did some of my fellow citizens truly not know that even our allies think us arrogant and our enemies think much worse? People who didn’t know that are incomprehensible to me: many people in the world harbor strong resentment toward the United States. It may stem from religious conviction, as it appears to have in this instance; or from the hypocrisy with which we approach trade agreements in which we set double standards for how our goods and third-world goods should compete on the world market; or from human rights violations that we condemn in other nations but condone in our own. We’ve given other citizens of the world plenty of reasons to disdain, hate, or feel superior to us. It’s not even politically complicated. I don’t condone what the terrorists did, and I do not believe that we deserved it; however, why it happened is no mystery.

Sam Donaldson’s show today was a sort of “where were you when…” call-in show about the September 11 attacks. I felt an urge to pour all of this out to Sam, and he would absolve me and tell me that my attitude toward all this is also valid. I suppressed the urge. And so I end this September 11 as soulless as I began it.

Leave a Reply