We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, And know the place for the first time. ~T.S. Eliot Four Quartets

11 September 2006

Remembering the day

Its September 11, and here in Britain, most of the newspapers and online sites today are remembering the 5th anniversary of the terrible day. Like many other Americans, I can remember exactly where I was on that day, at that hour. I saw my husband cry that day. We were living in America at the time.

I was working, out on an early morning appraisal appointment at a high-rise condominium building on Chicago's lakefront. At that time, my son had just turned one, and my husband was looking after him full time. Frequently we all went out in the car together, my husband would stay in the car while my son usually slept, and I went in for my 10-15 minute inspection. On that day, the owner of the condo had her tv on. As we casually chatted, slowly our attention from the conversation was diverted to the tv screen.Then the images came.

The first tower. We were just transfixed. Not quite sure what was happening or what to make of it. A very freak accident? We said our goodbyes and I headed back for my car. My husband had the radio on and looked rather dismayed. The dj, was saying something to the effect that 'something was not right with the world this morning, something terrible has happened to New York'. So we turned over to the public radio station and sat in the car on Belmont Avenue for an hour. The second tower.
My husband began to cry, as did I. He was crying as he said, because of what was happening, and because of what will happen as a result.

We couldn't help but think of our son, quietly, obliviously asleep in the back seat of the car. Why had we brought another being into this god-awful world?? Well that was the thought at the time, I mean we didn't know the full scale of what was happening until later in the day and the thought too occured that maybe Chicago would also be hit, while we were sat amidst high-rise buildings. We went home, as quick as we could.

Then the relatives from England began to phone. I am thankful that i did not know anyone in New York at the time. My family was not directly affected and yet deeply affected all the same. Then came the eerie silence as all air traffic came to a halt. We lived under a flight path to O'Hare International and never, I think, in all my life had I witnessed what a lack of airplane noise sounded like.America fell silent. That in itself is a strong memory. We knew too that it was only a matter of time until it roared.

That was what saddened us as buddhist practitioners. That there would be little understanding, although all Americans were indeed questioning. Why us? Why now? What for? Then the anger came which we knew would come, and result in retaliation and ultimately more suffering around the world.

Not long after 9/11 happened, I picked up a book called Another World Is Possible; conversations in a time of terror which if its still available can probably be found on the publisher's site
mouthfromthedirtysouth.com .
I would highly recommend it if you agree with the non-violent sentiment that Gandhi expressed, that an eye for an eye will leave us all blind.

A television show was just aired here about 9/11 widows and the millions of dollars in compensation they were awarded. It told how they suffered after being awarded such a large amount of money all at once, how families came apart arguing over money, and how some of the women became tabloid fodder due to their depression and lack of control in spending the money. The victim's compensation fund set up by the US government took in billions in a short period of time after the event and in order to claim compensation, victims had to agree not sue the airlines, or the world trade center or the government.

The argument being made by many of the widows, one of whom didn't make a claim out of principal and was consequently sued by her own family, was that this money was to protect the airlines best interests. I don't really want to get into all the other politics around it, but needless to say, the money that we all probably contributed (as I and everyone I knew made some sort of donation) also created suffering.

Nothing of the magnitude of 9/11 has happened since then thankfully, although there have been other attacks and wars going on, and daily suffering and deaths that probably exceed the wtc numbers. I don't want to go too in-depth about the state of the world right now, this is just my own little remembrance of the day, and continued wish for peace

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