For this tenth anniversary of the tragic and world-changing events of 9/11, I’m going to digress a bit from my usual topics.
I was watching the NBC special this morning and obviously was very moved by the scenes and memories, as well as the ceremonies in the three locations affected by that day’s attacks.
But oddly – or maybe not so –what moved me to write was an ad. One after another, men and women of different backgrounds, different nationalities, different races, proudly declared, “I am an American.” A conversation with Rudy Giuliani reminded us that people from other countries are still clamoring to immigrate to the United States. With all its faults, it’s still the nation with the most opportunity for those willing to work at it, for those wanting a piece of the American dream.
As Giuliani spoke, I thought with a sinking heart about our current Congress. This country was born and grew into a world power through compromise. That’s the democratic process.
Yet it seems the majority of our current Congressional representatives dig in their heels on every issue – “it’s my way or the highway.” It doesn’t seem to matter what their constituents are saying to them. They seem to think they know what’s best and were elected to do things their way, regardless of the conflicting messages they may be receiving from the very people who elected them. A prime issue is the tax question, and the unwillingness of certain members to increase taxes on the most wealthy while they are demanding cuts to services for the nation’s poorest and most vulnerable – even when very outspoken members of that privileged group are saying they’re willing to pay more. That’s not the foundation on which this country was built.
Another comment was made by one of the newscasters that the armed services are made up almost exclusively by working and middle class individuals. There’s no longer a sense of obligation or pride in many pampered rich families to serve their country in any such capacity. (There are notable exceptions.) Members of our government and media condemn European countries for their socialism, but at least in countries like England, even royalty have to spend time serving their country. Maybe we need a new form of draft that includes not just military but domestic community services to provide opportunities for every American, male or female, rich or poor, to serve their country.
I turned the TV off (it’s recording, so I can go back and watch more later) when the singing of the chorus of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” drove me to tears.
I’m just a working stiff and aspiring author. I don’t have the power or resources alone to change our country. But I can do some very small part with my words. My novels reflect interpersonal struggles and issues confronted by Everyman every day. They may never be blockbusters because they don’t contain a lot of blood or vampires or fantasy (well, maybe a little of that occasionally) or graphic erotic scenes. But I try to draw a picture of the ideals on which I was raised and on which this country was built. We care about loved ones and neighbors and the people of our society who – through no fault of their own – are not able to help themselves. We care about animals and our environment. We’re touched by the tragedies of life, most not as massive as 9/11 but tragic just the same.
After the recent floods in the northeast we saw one example after another of people rolling up their sleeves and helping their neighbors. Volunteers were bussed to the hardest hit areas to help with clean-up and money poured into funds set up to help those in need.
Why can’t we see that the condition of our nation is just as much in need of all of us rolling up our sleeves to make a difference?
It’s not likely we’ll ever wipe out greed and selfishness in our communities (sometimes even our families). But each of us can do at least one thing every day to make the world around us a better place. It’s always been the American way.
(And while you’re at it – write your Congressmen if you believe that the poor and middle class shouldn’t be more heavily burdened than the rich.)