September 11, 2002
I remember in March
2001 when I heard that the Taliban had acted on their threat to
destroy the 2000-year-old giant stone Buddhas at Bamiyan, Afghanistan.
It was so purely backward and bone-headed a thing to do I wanted
to rip my hair out. It took place in a country so far away, so
insulated from our influence we were utterly powerless to prevent
As practically everyone
in the world knows, just a few months later that same Medieval
mentality struck within a couple of miles of my home and decimated
seven buildings, two of which I had worked in for some time.
The shock of knowing
that such things can happen -- literally "out of the blue"
-- was compounded by armed troops stationed a block from my home
and having nowhere to escape what was essentially a perpetual
funeral service in my neighborhood.
As time went on and
the rest of the country focused on anthrax and the newly escalated
war on terrorism and human rights, I tried to do the same, but
the smoke from the pile wouldn't leave us alone. It was like nothing
I have ever smelled before, since, nor ever hope to smell again
in this life or any other. Like the burned tooth from the dentist's
drill combined with plastic and perhaps a little human flesh.
Just when I was opening a good book, or looking out the window,
there it was to piss me off all over again. May I please go back
to my life? What is this, some cruel message from the cosmos?
It seemed so unfair,
but every time I got angry, the anger just built up and bounced
off the inside of my chest. Even George W's simple-minded "kill
the bad guys" leadership couldn't absorb the feeling. After
roughly the ten thousandth time the rage had built up, I decided
to focus it on something worth the effort. It was ignorant rage
and brutality that were to blame for all this, but how do you
focus anger on other anger, or on plain old ignorance?
My friends and I who
are fortunate enough to be well educated and well taken care of
seem to have been lulled into a fairy tale by our ivory tower
upbringing. We watch for two decades while a backward wave of
selfishness and ignorance advance on an ever more powerful America
and we just laugh at the politicians and the people in the "red
states" and we look at each other and say, "What idiots."
We deserve a portion of the blame for this crap. It's just going
to get worse if all we do is huddle together at art openings and
brunches and try to ignore the rest of America.
I don't know, maybe
we could all of us take some of our grief and anger at terrorist
outrages and the military reactions to them and turn that energy
toward reaching out and actually doing something about the bulkheaded
mindset that perpetuates this kind of lunacy. I don't mean we
all have to write stories or make plays or sing songs or become
teachers, but maybe it would help if we just stop backing down
when our uncle starts going on about the "myth" of global
warming or about how he doesn't have time to read anymore.
Forgive me for going
off and putting a guilt trip on you. Just consider it's part of
my "healing process." I swear, I'm not going to carry
this anger around for another damn year.
Going through something like this made it even more clear to me how important friends are. Thank you for your love and attention and for considering my thoughts.
It is certain that I am stronger now than I have ever been. I'm looking forward to the rest of my life, however long or short it may be. Today I'll be working to post on my Web Site some of my photos from the disaster and then letting it go.
It's another beautiful
day today, just like it was last year. I'm a lucky person to have
lived in this city for more than a decade. We're all lucky, I
dare say, either to be living where we are, on this planet, or
even living at all.
This attack was far
from the most brutal thing humans have done to each other, it's
almost embarrassing to realize. The world has been a pretty savage
place for a pretty long time. 9/11 was an attitude adjustment.
Let's just not let it turn us into turtles, unless they are snapping
Indeed, let us honor the dust today and move forward tomorrow in an enlightened and awakened way.
© Kurt Opprecht, 2002