Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven years

HH is only five, or already five depending on how you look at it. He arrived two years after that morning in 2001.

When the doctor told us his due date was September 11th neither of us said a word, we just looked at each other and fiddled with our hands in our laps. We lived in lower Manhattan then, saw it all with our naked eyes, smelled it, tasted it, lived it and no doubt have some of it buried deep inside.

A great deal has happened in the last seven years; the war is still raging, the war that feels more and more like the permanent war of “1984” and our country, what a beating it has taken, and is taking and seems destined to go on taking. The liars are in charge and the desperate deceived have forgotten how to tell truth from fiction and lost the will to even try. They cheer and chant and wave flags and have learned to hate those who challenge their beliefs rather than respect the competition of ideas.

I don’t recall a time in my life when I was more disheartened at the likely choice of the majority. The re-election of Richard Nixon was a low-point and yet even then I didn’t have the feeling that his being in office actually jeopardized the very existence of the nation. Things are different now. We live in a far more dangerous world, an angrier world and a more complex world. America has always been a beacon of hope and promise but the current administration has transformed that beacon into a target and today we find ourselves one of the least trusted nations on the planet.

I actually despair at the idea of Senator McCain ascending to the Presidency. I don’t doubt that he believes he will do what is best for the country. I don’t believe he would intentionally put the nation at risk, but I am certain he will do just that. President Bush has poisoned our democracy. Through eight years of chipping away at the fundamental principles of our commonweal, he has left the nation divided, angry and fearful in mind and spirit and he has both hardened the resolve of our enemies and dramatically increased their ranks.

McCain will almost certainly involve America in another war, either through provoking it by bellicose posturing of the type he is practicing today with respect to Georgia and Iran, or through a knee-jerk response to a provocation that is designed to elicit just such a response. 9/11 was all about dragging us into a ground war in the Middle East and the monsters who planned and executed those attacks have been successful beyond their dreams. Can you imagine how quickly the situation could deteriorate if McCain is the man making decisions about how to respond to the next one? It is a very short step from the battlefields on which we are now engaged, to a war that engulfs the entire planet.

I believe the situation is that grave, the stakes that high, and the outcome of this election that important. But the thing that bothers me the most is that the country is divided into bunkers of hard right and hard left. It’s no accident that “country first” was the slogan of the Republican Convention. It’s no secret that we are a divided nation and that those divisions have crusted over into chasms during the last eight years. Our ideological blinders are firmly in place, fellow citizens who hold different beliefs are now enemies and the spin-doctors of the respective parties are engaged in campaigns of half-truths, outright misrepresentation and desperate fluff. The country is dancing in the darkness toward its demise. We are in the deep shit, and if I was Howard Dean I would be on the phone day and night to every person I knew of honor or merit or distinction, pleading with them to get out into the streets to educate, mobilize and energize the electorate. This may be the last chance we have to change our nation’s course before that course is chosen for us.

On this, the seventh anniversary of that morning in September, we should all try to remember what life was like before the terror. Ours was not a perfect nation on September 10th 2001 but it was a better one.

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