Wednesday, September 14, 2005

4 years vs. 4mins… is that all it’s worth?

Four years ago, a few men carved a niche for themselves in history books world over. Their planning, timing and their ruthlessness changed the way the world lived. They managed to implant fear of the living into every mortal alive: 9/11 happened… and the world would never be the same again.
And now four years on, nothing much seems to have changed. The perpetrators of that ghastly carnage roam scot free, the families that suffered losses are still trying to come to terms with their loss, and politicians, not just in America, but the world over are still talking about wars on terrorism and the like. On the surface a lot has changed- hurricanes have come and gone, wars have been fought, genocide and destruction continues in other parts of the world: each country is grappling with its own problems. But beneath the surface, nothing has changed. The pain is still raw, the memories still fresh, and the reminders are all too present… and of course, as it is in every such historical landmark, if 9/11 could be called that, commercialism has been the first to kick into action. Books have been written and money has been made. Memorabilia have been sold and money has been made. Strikes, protests, peace marches… and money has been made; someone has become famous, someone has been promoted, some one even became president, and of course, money has been made.
Now on the fourth anniversary, the customary editorials are written, special issues of magazines are published, news channels send correspondents to NYC to cover Ground Zero as it is today.Interview a few families, a few poignant words and pictures...
Declare holidays, or better still, observe silence. The USA observed 4minutes of silence to “remember the victims of 9/11”, as they put it. As though those 4 minutes will ease the pain, if only for today. That day of death, destruction, fear, panic and loss, and just 4 minutes to remember it all. 4minutes to remember the anguish of families who have lost loved ones, or to imagine the feelings of a man trapped in that ill-fated aircraft, knowing he was about to die and take scores of others along with him, and feeling as helpless as a newborn, or the pain of never really knowing what exactly happened in those last few minutes before this incident was etched into history for eternity.
And as if this mockery is not enough, the government wants to build a Freedom Center on Ground Zero. What freedom is the monument going to stand for? Freedom from fear, when terrorists still run amok in our countries today? Or freedom to live in peace, as hunger and poverty ravages parts of the globe? And most importantly, freedom of its people while the country wars with other nations?
Those grieving are demanding for a memorial to be built on Ground Zero to stand as a permanent testimony of the tragedy that befell their nation on that fateful day, so that the world may remember for time to come, how all the carefully built seemingly impenetrable can fall in the blink of an eye, and without a warning.
Ultimately, this whole episode has been reduced to an endless fight between two parties for what is a piece of land, and nothing more. It does not seem to matter to the warring factions that this ground is not just the final resting place of many a citizen of the world, nor the fact that this whole exercise is making a mockery out of something as tragic as what happened on 9/11. Somewhere in the recesses of the mind springs a spark of fear that perhaps the world has forgotten the enormity of the tragedy, not entirely but just beginning to fade along the edges. Soon all of it will become too blurry to be lucid anymore. The fear lies that these people, who are stuck in a seeming time- warp and who have closed their minds and eyes to the bigger picture of it all, will need another 9/11 to jolt them from their slumber. Perhaps even then, this war will wage on with results too far away to be of any solace to anyone, victim or otherwise.


Mekhala said...

Hey Suki,

That a very well written piece and very poignant and articulate. Here in US, there were folks talking about whether America's philanthrophy will be matched by other countries, in the wake of Katrina!!(Remember US being pressurized to lend more aid to some tsunami hit countries). But one positive outcome is that the poverty of the people in Louisiana and other Southern states has come to the forefront.. Let's see what Big Brother Bush does... Btw, try to get hold of Michael Moore's Stupid White Men.

Arvind Saba said...



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