There’s a few more hours left in September 11, 2020 as I write this. It’s the nineteenth anniversary of the attack on our country by terrorists.
Sometimes I see people who are younger than nineteen and I wonder what their lives must be like. I am forty-two, and I’m a fat guy who’s hairline is starting to recede. I don’t ask where the good times gone because I know the good times weren’t all that great. But they seem so much worse now. I ask myself: are they worse now or is it just me thinking that?
It would be easy to point at right now. We’re in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, one that our country is struggling with and that many of our citizens refuse to believe is even a real problem. We have to wear masks in public and socially distance and yet a lot of people refuse to do so, believing it impinges on their personal freedoms. Meanwhile, they don’t even know what real freedom is.
We’ve given our information away to social media. We’re more miserable than ever because of these tools that were ostensibly created to unite us and give us a common ground. We’re deeply ignorant of what’s going on around us, what’s going on in other countries, our own history. We’re basically focused on our individual attempts to scrape out an existence, and it inhibits our ability to see the bigger picture.
I want to say that a lot of things changed since September 11, 2001 and they did in the bigger picture. Maybe that was the beginning of the end of the United States as a major superpower as we tried to fight an unwinnable fight against a concept (terrorism) instead of an knowable enemy with concrete borders, throwing good resources after bad, costing many lives in the process. And maybe I’m wrong because the United States has always struggled to live up to this ideal we held it up to be. . . this bastion of freedom, peace and integrity.
And how does any of that affect the average person who’s just trying to survive in an increasingly difficult world? Did you ever think that the worst people in the world would rip off this world for scrap metal and leave you with the rest? Why would they do something so callous? They have to live here too, don’t they?
This is only heartbreaking if you think life can be so much better. If you think it can only get worse and it will, none of this affects you much. If you don’t resist the torture and submit to it, you grow numb to the pain. But some of us can’t help ourselves. We keep saying how wrong it is, and pointing out how not only is the emperor naked but dangerous and cruel. And it never gets easier. The older you get, the more it hurts. The more you know, the tougher it gets.
And even that’s not enough because you keep searching for an answer to the question “Now what?”
But ask that nineteen-year-old how life is and see what their response. Are they filled with life? Are they ready to take on their world? Are they young and arrogant and knowing everything? Do they know how arrogant they are yet? I envy that energy and I’d love to have it one more time. Some men my age divorce their wives and buy Camaros in order to fake it. I’d settle for a push towards real change in this country.
That’s me, being unreasonable again.