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"A Return to the People: Relfections on 9/11"

(ATLANTA - 11 September 2011) Taking stock of ourselves is dirty work. But on a day like today, the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, it’s the best job we can undertake.

The attacks were ghastly and altering, changing our country’s composition down to its DNA. But what we did in response trumps even those dastardly deeds: we gave ourselves over to the very “evil” that attacked us in the first place.



“Pride” (Provincetown, Mass.), by Will Pollock


 Please allow a bit of a parallel: If electing Kennedy allowed us to successfully avert nuclear war during the Cuban Missing Crisis, then how would a President Gore have handled the country before, during and after this assault? How would we have been led as a country in response to 9/11? Would we have sunk trillions of dollars in nation-building in Iraq, or perhaps used it as a rally cry to show attackers that we can survive and thrive, even in the aftermath of death and misery? “A lot of other people behaved badly” after that day, as Paul Krugman put it today. “The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.”



Recent events show that we have been on a sad, downward spiral ever since the attacks. Our financial system has collapsed and is still limping; profiteers have bounced back with an assault on commonsense regulation; our previous administration is so demonized elsewhere that they 
risk arrest if they travel abroadwe tortured people in custody and are still protecting those respon...; and, most recently, we’ve seen a culture emerge where folks who hate government are the very ones making policy. What’s our response?


Tweet from @GStuedler 


I say, enough. Let’s remember today in a factual way, withoutembellishment or agendas. Let’s return our country to the very compassionate, understanding, engaged folks who make this country great: the people. Let’s elect representatives who reflect that value system, not those who want, need and manipulate for profitability or glory. When a politician fails us, as Bush and his team did - and still do, thumbing their noses at truth and fact - we only have ourselves to blame. And that includes the voters who didn’t punch the ballot for the offending party. We are all complicit if we are all Americans.

But if it’s about all of us, it’s still cannot be “us vs. them.” Peace and ambassadorship have been reframed, inexplicably, as weak and useless when juxtaposed against our lionized, “boot in the ass” politicians. I say, loudly, no more. No matter whom you vote for, make sure it doesn’t reflect the mistakes we made when slammed with the calamity on this day 10 years ago.


Tweet from DaveyWavey 


Today, I take pride in my country, and want to go forward with a people-first agenda. Where we come first, and yet all the while knowing that we are still the global leader that can think outside ourselves, and never take the world around us for granted. Superior actions, not superiority.

After this day of remembrance, returning this country to the people is the best step forward over the next decade.




 

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Comment by Will Pollock on September 16, 2011 at 7:13am
"extreme license with the meaning of words." yes, MK. yes. conservatives love reframing debate by devising catchy names for derisive issues - but that's just the tip of the iceberg. we have such short memories about how grandly fucked up this country was by the NeoCons, and that side of ideology spectrum seems to be coming back again, even more torqued, as if it never happened. as much as I like Obama, he's gone along with some of Bush's most awful policies, including the Patriot Act. so it's a mixed bag for us - but we progressives have to stick together! thanks you guys for the kind words - great discussion.
Comment by wiffledust on September 14, 2011 at 9:56pm
and words can do so much damage, so much good depending on how you use them. yes, i remember the whole french fries idiocy. what about words like water boarding? some people use it as if it's a water sport of some kind. it's freakin' torture! and we still don't even know how to get out of all that. and you're so right, matthew, about the words patriot/patriotism. the patriot act. what a load of unamerican wordsmithing there! we have so much to build back after this lost decade.
Comment by Matthew Kahler on September 14, 2011 at 9:12pm
i think will is speaking from a very compassionate place. these kinds of things: compassion/self awareness/responsibility/stewardship/humility/deference/deliverance, are all complex. those planes were not the only things hijacked. after those murderous acts, this country, in large part, and mostly via complicity, bought into the practice of taking extreme licence with the meanings of words. anything french became a symbol of weakness. remember all that stupidity? more than anything though, the meaning and usage of the word 'patriot/patriotism/patriotic was raped. real patriotism is about those complex words that will has brought to mind. mk
Comment by wiffledust on September 12, 2011 at 11:38am
thanks so much for this blog post, will. i was moved by this yesterday on your blog. you capture my feelings so well here:" Let’s return our country to the very compassionate, understanding, engaged folks who make this country great: the people. Let’s elect representatives who reflect that value system, not those who want, need and manipulate for profitability or glory. When a politician fails us, as Bush and his team did - and still do, thumbing their noses at truth and fact - we only have ourselves to blame. And that includes the voters who didn’t punch the ballot for the offending party. We are all complicit if we are all Americans." .....i want our representatives to REPRESENT us, and that compassion you speak of us is called for now. we have our own people seriously hurting..for what? we have a rich country, enough for all. compassion and kindness need to be the outcome of this tragedy, not strife.  well done, will. well done.

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