Is all lost?

Things aren’t quite as they should be around the coun­try. Many of us are angry. Many of us are fear­ful for our safe­ty, or that of our chil­dren. Many of us are wor­ried about what the future will hold. Many of us are miss­ing and mourn­ing loved ones. Many of us are dead.

I ini­tial­ly wrote those words to be the open­ing of a Christ­mas 2001 piece that I nev­er found my way to com­plete. I have revis­it­ed that draft many, many times, and it is of lit­tle sur­prise to me that they have not been ren­dered irrel­e­vant by the pas­sage of a decade. For all the smoke and noise that has gone on since that hor­ri­ble Tues­day morn­ing, what has been solved in the inter­im? What has been changed for the bet­ter? I don’t pre­tend to have my ear to the ground on any aspect of inter­na­tion­al affairs or mil­i­tary strat­e­gy, but from where I sit, it sure looks like we are all stuck in a spi­ral of vio­lence and mutu­al destruc­tion, with no exit in sight.

What way out can there be for us as a nation, as a peo­ple? Per­haps the even more press­ing ques­tion, as the wheels of the next major elec­tion cycle are already in turn: are we still a nation, a peo­ple? Is there any­thing left of the Amer­i­can poli­ty? Is there any sal­vaging the great exper­i­ment that has been these Unit­ed States? The ran­corous par­ti­san nature of cur­rent polit­i­cal rhetoric, the hol­low void at the heart of all the shrill elec­tion­eer­ing, seems to leave lit­tle hope that these ques­tions can be answered in the affir­ma­tive.

Does that mean that the ter­ror­ists have won? That ques­tion, at least, I feel con­fi­dent in answer­ing: no. No, it means that we have lost: lost our way, lost our soul, lost our sense of the com­mon good. It is up to each and every one of us to deter­mine if we can ever find any of those again. But time is not on our side in this: we need to do some­thing, not soon, but now. With the excep­tion of those few self­less heroes we still remem­ber, all of us were help­less spec­ta­tors the day the tow­ers fell. That does not mean we have to be help­less spec­ta­tors as our coun­try falls apart.

1 Comment

  1. It bugs me, this notion of ter­ror­ists win, we lose, we win, ter­ror­ists lose. I don’t know what else to say. I real­ly don’t, except you’re not alone. Many of us absorb our frac­tured coun­try.

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