I see that I am not the only one to have commented on the events and aftermath of September 11, 2001. This does not surprise me at all, and in fact, I am a bit surprised that more people didn’t comment on it. What I am even more surprised about is how differently various commentators perceived the aftermath, most of them describing a a community that unified in response to the tragic events.
This, of course, is not what I described at all in my commentary. My memory of the days, weeks and even months following September 11, 2001 is filled with negativity, of lingering depression and anxiety even amongst those whose lives were not directly touched by loss. I have no recollection of a community coming together. My recollection is of a community that was divided and divisive.
My recollection is of friendships that foundered over disagreements on the appropriate way to talk to the kids about terrorism and an inability to tolerate differences in coping strategies (some wanted to go about their lives, pretending that nothing had changed; some lived in constant fear and thus could not pretend that nothing had changed. The former looked down upon the latter as wimpy; the latter looked upon the former as cold and heartless). I recall uncomfortable parlor games of “Who would you have called if you were stuck in the tower?” I saw marriages end, as couples took of their lives and their happiness and considered, “Is this the last person I would want to talk to if a plane hit my office building? I recall the anger of parents parents over their school’s failure to “appropriately” address the attacks. I recall vicious mudslinging aimed at widows trying to collect their monetary damages and proceeds of whatever fund had been created to help them in their time of need (“Why does she need the money? Why doesn’t she donate it to someone who really could use it?).
Where was this rallying together happening?