12 September 2007

reluctant prophesy

okay, i managed to fix the internet. still not sure how exactly, but it's fixed and that's what's important.

of course, now i can't remember all the pithy things i was going to say, all the strange news items have left me and i only have one thing on my mind.

walking out of a bar last night, i looked up into the sky and saw the towers of light for the first time.

it's hard to explain the emotions they bring up. the incredible pain of thousands of innocent deaths, the sacrifices of the rescue workers, the unending ineptitude of our nation's response.

this city was torn asunder on september 11th, but i have a hard time relating -- i was still living in california and it all seemed so distant and unreal. it is not unreal for anyone who lived through it here.

i had just graduated from college that spring. some of you may not know that the thesis i'd finished that april was about the unintended consequences of our nation's long strategic relationship with saudi arabia. essentially my point was that propping up a corrupt monarchy and allowing them to violently oppress dissidence was dangerous, especially given that the dissident movement was well-armed and trained by the united states to fight the soviets in afghanistan.

i ended with the thought that if we didn't start recognizing the meaning of the repeated attacks led by al-qaeda around the world, then they would come to our soil. this in april of 2001.

so when 9/11 came crashing down on us, the first phone calls i got were from school friends saying, damn, i guess you were right.

but i didn't want to be right.

i didn't want to know what i knew.

jonah is the only prophet in the old testament who runs from god's word. rather than embrace his role, he tries to hide from his destiny on a ship at sea.

i felt the same way after the attacks. with my knowledge, which was evidently as forward-thinking as anyone in the defense department, i should have gotten involved somehow, used that knowledge to open people's eyes to the history behind the attacks, which i had just spent two years researching.

but i didn't. i can't really explain why. i was scared. i was tired of the same subject, previously confined to musty library stacks on middle eastern history and suddenly, shockingly brought to life. i didn't know where to turn.

my actions still give me pause. we all have destinies in store. so many of us run from them, hiding behind drugs, alcohol, work, relationships. i applaud those of you who feel like you've accomplished their dreams. i'm still working on mine.

on the wall above my bed is a drawing by brian andreas. next to the drawing it says:

in my dream
the angel shrugged
and said if we fail this
time it will be a
failure of imagination

and then she
placed the world
gently in the
palm of my hand.

do not let your imagination fail you. and i promise to do the same.

1 comment:

  1. Good post Jones. Thank you for bringing this up. And offering a tribute in your own way.

    I was living in NY on 9/11/01. I was living in Portland on 9/11/07. Here in Portland the day came and went unobserved. Several times throughout the day I heard people question, "it's 9/11?" I wanted to shake them and scream. "How could you not know that!" As hard as it is to believe, people here seem to have forgotten how much our world changed 6 years ago, despite the omnipresent repercussions in our foreign policy debacles.

    I will never forget. I still cringe when I hear planes overhead (thankfully I live a little further from the airport now). I remember the stench of burning plastic and hair that lingered in the city for weeks. I remember using my snow brush to clear the inch of soot off my car. I remember the utter and absolute shock, in myself and everyone I encountered that day.

    Though it still hurts, it helps to remember, to commiserate, and to vent. Too many people who do remember avoid the memories, choosing rather to ignore the anniversary.