Archive for Sunday, September 7, 2008

9/11 impact remains; memories dim

Survivors struggle with 7-year anniversary

September 7, 2008


People pass a steel cross, a remnant of the attacks on the World Trade Center, now being stored at a church close to the infamous site. As the nation prepares for the seventh anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, many have mixed feelings about the day that changed U.S. history yet grows more remote with each passing year.

People pass a steel cross, a remnant of the attacks on the World Trade Center, now being stored at a church close to the infamous site. As the nation prepares for the seventh anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, many have mixed feelings about the day that changed U.S. history yet grows more remote with each passing year.

Construction continues on the Freedom Tower of the World Trade Center on Thursday in New York. Steel has reached street level for the building, one of five skyscrapers being built to replace the trade center.

Construction continues on the Freedom Tower of the World Trade Center on Thursday in New York. Steel has reached street level for the building, one of five skyscrapers being built to replace the trade center.

It is not a tidy anniversary this year. Seven years between that awful day and this Sept. 11, the terrorist attacks linger somewhere between the immediate, a conscious part of our days, and the comfortable remove of the distant past.

What happened seven years ago colors American life today. There are the two wars, of course. But in smaller ways, too: We weigh "evil" as a campaign issue. We slip off our shoes at airport security, buy the zip-top bag for liquids and gels.

And yet there is an unmistakable distance. Seven years means we are far enough away that Sen. Joe Biden can joke in a Democratic debate that former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani only mentions three things in a sentence, "a noun and a verb and 9/11," and bring down the house.

Yet we are close enough that video of the towers' collapse is so painful it almost never airs anymore, and when it is shown, as in a montage at the Republican National Convention, it is utterly halting.

No one will forget. But when is it OK to move on?

For some, seven years means enough time to pick up, sometimes to pack up, to start anew.

Cathy Faughnan's husband, Christopher, a 37-year-old bond trader, was killed in the trade center. She was 37 then, too.

Now she is 44. Within two years after the attacks, she moved back to her home state of Colorado and has since remarried to a widower she met in New York shortly after Sept. 11.

For others, seven years is an instant.

One morning last month, Diane Horning saw a TV report speculating on the vice presidential prospects for Giuliani and was outraged: "He can't put two words together without talking about my son's death."

Her son was Matthew Horning, 26 years old, killed in the north tower. Tiny bits of his remains were recovered from the site and from the Staten Island landfill where a million tons of debris and human remains were taken. She is appealing the dismissal this summer of a lawsuit that would require the city to move the material at the landfill to a separate burial plot.

"I just can't stop," Diane Horning says. "I need my son to be treated with dignity."

Exactly how much the nation has changed since Sept. 11, 2001, is a matter of perspective.

"There were economic changes, psychological effects," says Alfred Goldberg, who retired last year as the Pentagon's chief historian, and who points to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

He says he believes the tragedy of Sept. 11 was compounded by the national response, and perhaps by an exaggeration of the threat posed by al-Qaida. "We are in many ways a very changed nation because of those attacks," he says.

Evil. That the word resonates in American life and politics is a sign we are not too far removed from that day. It came up as a specific campaign issue just last month.

Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in California, asked: "Does evil exist? And if it does, do we ignore it?"

Sen. John McCain answered, "Defeat it." Sen. Barack Obama said it exists in many places, citing Darfur and child abuse, and that it is "God's task" to erase it from the world.

The months after the attacks were not kind to the airline industry, and about a year later, Delta opted to save a little money by replacing its linens in first class with paper trays. Flight attendant Jewel Van Valin decided to pass out crayons.

Back then they drew firefighters and airplanes, and they wrote, "In God We Trust."

Now they draw palm trees and destinations. They draw moving on.


Ralph Reed 9 years, 6 months ago

I remember the tragedy as much as anyone who followed the horrible events of that day. I find it deplorable though that the date September 11, 2001 is used as generic call to arms, "Remember 911", just as "Remember the Alamo" is used. This diminishes the impact of what actually happened. This Thursday remember those who died that day and offer a prayer for them, for the soldiers who died as a result, and the families of both.On another note, why doesn't 19 April 1995 have the same importance? It should.*****I'm me. Who are you behind your hood of anonimity?

coltrane 9 years, 6 months ago

We have to find a way to stop violence, of course. If need be, we have to put the men responsible in prison. But the important thing is to look deeply and ask, "Why did that happen? What responsibility do we have in that happening? " Maybe they misunderstood us. But what has made them misunderstand us so much to make them hate so much? The method of the Buddha is to look deeply to see the source of suffering; the source of the violence. If we have violence within ourselves, any action can make that violence explode. This energy of hatred and violence can be very great and when we see that in the other person then we feel sorry for them. When we feel sorry for them, the drop of compassion is born in our hearts and we feel so much happier and so much more at peace in ourselves. That [empathy] produces the nectar of compassion within ourselves. If you come to the monastery, it is in order to learn to do that, so that whenever you suffer and feel angry, you know how to look deeply, so that the drop of compassion in your heart can come out of your heart and can put out the fever of anger. Only the drop of compassion that can put out the flames of hatred. We must look deeply and honestly at our present situation. If we are able to see the sources for the suffering within ourselves and within the other person, we can begin to unravel the cycle of hatred and violence. When our house is on fire, we must first put out the fire before investigating its cause. Likewise, if we first extinguish the anger and hatred in our own heart, we will have a chance to deeply investigate the situation with clarity and insight in order to determine all the causes and conditions that have contributed to the hatred and violence we are experiencing within ourselves and within our world. The "right action" is the action that results in the fires of hatred and violence being extinguished.

coltrane 9 years, 6 months ago

What I Would Say to Osama bin Laden Thich Nhat Hanh Interview by Anne A. Simpkinson Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese monk in the Zen tradition, who worked tirelessly for peace during the Vietnam War, rebuilding villages destroyed by the hostilities. Following an anti-war lecture tour in the United States, he was not allowed back in his country and settled in France.In 1967, he was nominated by the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., for the Nobel Peace Prize. He is now internationally known for his teaching and writing on mindfulness, and for his work related to "socially engaged Buddhism," a call to social action based on Buddhist principles. Thay, as he is affectionately called by his followers, shared his thoughts on how America should respond to the terrorist attacks. This interview will appear in a forthcoming book entitled "From the Ashes: A Spiritual Response to the Attack on America," to be published jointly by Beliefnet and Rodale Press.

coltrane 9 years, 6 months ago

If you could speak to Osama bin Laden, what would you say to him? Likewise, if you were to speak to the American people, what would you suggest we do at this point, individually and as a nation? If I were given the opportunity to be face to face with Osama bin Laden, the first thing I would do is listen. I would try to understand why he had acted in that cruel way. I would try to understand all of the suffering that had led him to violence. It might not be easy to listen in that way, so I would have to remain calm and lucid. I would need several friends with me, who are strong in the practice of deep listening, listening without reacting, without judging and blaming. In this way, an atmosphere of support would be created for this person and those connected so that they could share completely, trust that they are really being heard. After listening for some time, we might need to take a break to allow what has been said to enter into our consciousness. Only when we felt calm and lucid would we respond. We would respond point by point to what had been said. We would respond gently but firmly in such a way to help them to discover their own misunderstandings so that they will stop violent acts from their own will. For the American people, I would suggest that we do everything we can to restore our calm and our lucidity before responding to the situation. To respond too quickly before we have much understanding of the situation may be very dangerous. The first thing we can do is to cool the flames of anger and hatred that are so strong in us. As mentioned before, it is crucial to look at the way we feed the hatred and violence within us and to take immediate steps to cut off the nourishment for our hatred and violence. When we react out of fear and hatred, we do not yet have a deep understanding of the situation. Our action will only be a very quick and superficial way of responding to the situation and not much true benefit and healing will occur. Yet if we wait and follow the process of calming our anger, looking deeply into the situation, and listening with great will to understand the roots of suffering that are the cause of the violent actions, only then will we have sufficient insight to respond in such a way that healing and reconciliation can be realized for everyone involved.

tonythetiger 9 years, 6 months ago

I live in the Brooklyn and I hear about the World Trade Towers on a regular basis. I see people that claim to be influenced by it everyday. I ran into one as I moved here and started doing business with him at his establishment.I was never sure what was going on because the mass media is so full of lies and manipulative effrontery that it is hard to sort through all of it day to day to find out what really happens.I have heard a slew of theories and had a hard time believing them all most of them contradictory.There was a sign painted in spray paint the last time I was in Lawrence that said "Bush Knew" next to Total Mart on 9th and Ohio. It was said to me that it was about 9/11 and that he planned it with other people to start exterminating people that disagreed with him in the middle east and he blamed it on Bin Laden because he knew he could. It was an elaborate plan to hire people that would do it. It was also said that he wanted to get rid of some information and companies that existed in the World Trade Center.I don't know if I believe that. However I am not so sure I believe what the other sources say either. I guess I am not updated on this, but I see that sometimes when case is starting to run cold the people trying to solve it want it solved no matter what and so they find someone to blame regardless the costs.I ask myself this though. Does the Bush Administration hide things from the general public? Yes. Did they hide this? I am not sure. I don't know. What I do know that some people, by posing scenarios that are not correct or true, sometimes discredit the "liberal" point of view by clouding it with falsities and rubbish that make anything but the "mainstream-we- have- it- under- control- and-solved- it- don't- question- us- solution" seem likely.I have a tendency to think that people don't understand all they think they know and will explain it anyway to say they understand it. I have seen people do this a thousand times from kindergarten to the workplace.

jayhawklawrence 9 years, 6 months ago

"If I were given the opportunity to be face to face with Osama bin Laden, the first thing I would do is listen."The first thing I would do is pull the trigger on my automatic weapon. Good riddance you sick B.....d.That being said....I remember 9/11 very well and I believe it is an insult to suggest that Americans have forgotten the grief not to mention the fact that many of us lost our jobs shortly after as the economy did a nose dive. I remember cheering the President as he made us feel good about being Americans and fighting back. We looked at the experience of Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Bush as the son of the other Bush who won the first IRAQ War, Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice... I thought we were prepared for anything and even God was on our side.Now...I feel betrayed. We know all the reasons.Which should be a good reminder of how politicians will prey on your emotions to get what they want because they aren't like us. They are jaded by power and wealth and by selfish ideologies and religions that belong, in Bush's own words, on the "scrap heap of history."So as the Republicans wrap themselves in the flag and God and liberty, we need to remember that it is all smoke and mirrors and for them it is just part of the game they are so proud to play.

Jennifer Forth 9 years, 6 months ago

The author seems to have been quoting the historian from the Pentagon. Many people believed further attacks on the US would take place after 9/11, yet nothing has occured so far. I believe this is the exaggeration he is referring to, but liberal bias in the press. Get a grip.

coltrane 9 years, 6 months ago

What do you think would be the most effective spiritual response to this tragedy? We can begin right now to practice calming our anger, looking deeply at the roots of the hatred and violence in our society and in our world, and listening with compassion in order to hear and understand what we have not yet had the capacity to hear and to understand. When the drop of compassion begins to form in our hearts and minds, we begin to develop concrete responses to our situation. When we have listened and looked deeply, we may begin to develop the energy of brotherhood and sisterhood between all nations, which is the deepest spiritual heritage of all religious and cultural traditions. In this way the peace and understanding within the whole world is increased day by day. To develop the drop of compassion in our own heart is the only effective spiritual response to hatred and violence. That drop of compassion will be the result of calming our anger, looking deeply at the roots of our violence, deep listening, and understanding the suffering of everyone involved in the acts of hatred and violence.

coltrane 9 years, 6 months ago

In South Africa, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has made attempts to realize this. All the parties involved in violence and injustice agreed to listen to each other in a calm and supportive environment, to look together deeply at the roots of violent acts and to find agreeable arrangements to respond to the situations. The presence of strong spiritual leaders is very helpful to support and maintain such an environment. We can look at this model for resolving conflicts that are arising right in the present moment; we do not have to wait many years to realize this. You personally experienced the devastation caused by the war fought in Vietnam and worked to end the hostilities there. What do you say to people who are grief-stricken and enraged because they have lost loved ones in the terrorist attack? I did lose my spiritual sons and daughters during the war when they were entering the fighting zone trying to save those under the bombs. Some were killed by war and some by murder due to the misunderstanding that they were supporting the other side. When I looked at the four slain corpses of my spiritual sons murdered in such a violent way, I suffered deeply. I understand the suffering of those who have lost beloved ones in this tragedy. In situations of great loss and grief, I had to find my calm in order to restore my lucidity and my heart of understanding and compassion. With the practice of deep looking, I realized that if we respond to cruelty with cruelty, injustice and suffering will only increase. When we learned of the bombing of Ben Tre village in Vietnam, where the pilots told the journalists that they had destroyed the village in order to save it, I was shocked, and [racked] with anger and grief. We practiced walking calmly and gently on the earth to bring back our calm mind and peaceful heart. Although it is very challenging to maintain our openness in that moment, it is crucial that we not respond in any way until we have calmness and clarity with which to see the reality of the situation. We knew that to respond with violence and hatred would only damage ourselves and those around us. We practiced [so that we might] look deeply into the suffering of the people inflicting violence on us, to understand them more deeply and to understand ourselves more deeply. With this understanding we were able to produce compassion and to relieve our own suffering and that of the other side.

RedwoodCoast 9 years, 6 months ago

9/11 was upsetting and startling for me. By the end of that week, it was clear to me that the manner in which Bush administration and many other politicians were to wield 9/11 in policy was going to be even more upsetting. We still don't have our bad guy, but I guess we did get a bad guy, right? Too bad the past 7 years don't have a 'back' button.

coltrane 9 years, 6 months ago

The same situation now exists between the American people and people of Islamic and Arabic nations. There is much misunderstanding and lack of the kind of communication that hinders our ability to resolve our difficulties peacefully. Compassion is a very large part of Buddhism and Buddhist practice. But at this point in time, compassion towards terrorists seems impossible to muster. Is it realistic to think people can feel true compassion now? Without understanding, compassion is impossible. When you understand the suffering of others, you do not have to force yourself to feel compassion, the door of your heart will just naturally open. All of the hijackers were so young and yet they sacrificed their lives for what? Why did they do that? What kind of deep suffering is there? It will require deep listening and deep looking to understand that. To have compassion in this situation is to perform a great act of forgiveness. We can first embrace the suffering, both outside of America and within America. We need to look after the victims here within our country and also to have compassion for the hijackers and their families because they are also victims of ignorance and hatred. In this way we can truly practice non-discrimination. We do not need to wait many years or decades to realize reconciliation and forgiveness. We need a wake up call now in order not to allow hatred to overwhelm our hearts.

coltrane 9 years, 6 months ago

the movie trailer Fahrenheit 9/11:video trailer MICHAEL MOORE MOVIE

coltrane 9 years, 6 months ago

What is the "right action" to take with regard to responding to terrorist attacks? Should we seek justice through military action? Through judicial processes? Is military action and/or retaliation justified if it can prevent future innocents from being killed? All violence is injustice. The fire of hatred and violence cannot be extinguished by adding more hatred and violence to the fire. The only antidote to violence is compassion. And what is compassion made of? It is made of understanding. When there is no understanding, how can we feel compassion, how can we begin to relieve the great suffering that is there? So understanding is the very real foundation upon which we build our compassion. How do we gain the understanding and insight to guide us through such incredibly challenging moments that we are now face in America? To understand, we must find paths of communication so that we can listen to those who desperately are calling out for our understanding because such an act of violence is a desperate call for attention and for help. How can we listen in a calm and clear way so that we don't immediately kill the chance for understanding to develop? As a nation we need to look into this: how to create the situations for deep listening to occur so that our response to the situation may arise out of our calm and clear mind. Clarity is a great offering that we can make at this time. There are people who want one thing only: revenge. In the Buddhist scriptures, the Buddha said that by using hatred to answer hatred, there will only be an escalation of hatred. But if we use compassion to embrace those who have harmed us, it will greatly diffuse the bomb in our hearts and in theirs. So how can we bring about a drop of compassion that can put out the fire of hatred? You know, they do not sell compassion in the supermarket. If they sold compassion, we would only need to bring it home and we could solve the problem of hatred and violence in the world very easily. But compassion can only be produced in our own heart by our own practice. America is burning with hatred. That is why we have to tell our Christian friends, "You are children of Christ." You have to return to yourselves and look deeply and find out why this violence happened. Why is there so much hatred? What lies under all this violence? Why do they hate so much that they would sacrifice their own lives and bring about so much suffering to other people? Why would these young people, full of vitality and strength, have chosen to lose their lives, to commit such violence? That is what we have to understand.

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