11 September 2009

The Deification of the Dead

Those of you offended by irreverence may want to skip this post, but I'm starting to get seriously annoyed at the deification of the dead from 9-11.

Today family and volunteers read the names of the victims of 9-11 in New York. Obama went to the Pentagon and said, "In pursuit of Al Qaeda and its extremist allies, we will never falter."

Nonsense. All of it. Every year, about 2.5 million Americans die. Some violently. Some in stupid accidents. Some gracefully of old age. Some from treatable diseases and some of bad treatment. There are two things true of this: deaths usually leave grief in their wake and over time people move beyond that grief.

If you lost a loved one on 9-10 in an auto accident or to cancer or homicide, your grief is private and you have the option to dwell on their death or to move on each year as the anniversary comes. You are not forced to engage in the pageant of national mourning for cameras each year, as you would be if you had lost a loved one on 9-11 to a terrorist attack.

The people who died in those buildings were no different in character than the roughly 20 million Americans who have died since that event. Some were rich and some poor. Some were annoying and some calming. Their families have already received an inordinate amount of money from Congress for having had the wisdom to lose their loved one in a national tragedy rather than something less outrageous.

I flew today on 9-11 and pulled into the gate in San Diego at 9:11 east coast time. Maybe I just had too much 9 11 today. I now return you to the mainstream media and people like Rush Limbaugh and Keith Olbermann, suave media experts who are smart enough to save their outrage for easy targets, like politicians.

17 comments:

slouchy said...

Yours is an absolutely valid point that no one else will dare to make.

slouchy said...

you might be interested in the comparison made about halfway through this article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/13/opinion/13kristof.html?_r=1

Jen aka Pinky said...

Ron, I'm truly stunned by this post.
Do you draw any parallels between 9/11 and Pearl Harbor?
I know that they aren't identical, but when it comes to memorializing those murdered on that day, and it was MURDER, I do see parallels.

People dying of old age isn't quite the same national threat as terrorism...killing thousands of American CIVILIANS at one time.

I'm sorry, but it's a poor comparison.

When I see our nation remembering 9/11, I see us galvanizing in our resolve against terrorism, in our determination to not be intimidated. It's not about about grieving the individuals that died on that day AS IF they were any different than the rest of us, per se. It's to show the world that we will NEVER back down in the face of evil. And yes, terrorism is evil.

Domestic or foreign, evil nonetheless.

Jen aka Pinky said...

I have family that died on Pan Am flight 103, and I think that their deaths were quite extraordinary.

Talk to anyone (sane) near ground zero when the murders of 9/11 took place and I'm sure they'll agree that this tragedy need not be forgotten.

FJ said...

You do Aspasia, consort to mighty Pericles, a gross disservice in admonishing the Athenians for their love of funeral rhetoric. You would as well denounce Lincoln's Gettysburg Address or the annual laying of wreaths on the beaches of Normandy... for what is it that made those deaths any more or less special?

You cynicism dishonor's Joey. So either get with the program, or have the good taste of keeping your pie hole shut to reduce overspillage from your ignorance!

FJ said...

Plato, "Phaedrus"

SOCRATES: I conceive Pericles to have been the most accomplished of rhetoricians.

PHAEDRUS: What of that?

SOCRATES: All the great arts require discussion and high speculation about the truths of nature; hence come loftiness of thought and completeness of execution. And this, as I conceive, was the quality which, in addition to his natural gifts, Pericles acquired from his intercourse with Anaxagoras whom he happened to know. He was thus imbued with the higher philosophy, and attained the knowledge of Mind and the negative of Mind, which were favourite themes of Anaxagoras, and applied what suited his purpose to the art of speaking.

PHAEDRUS: Explain.

SOCRATES: Rhetoric is like medicine.

PHAEDRUS: How so?

SOCRATES: Why, because medicine has to define the nature of the body and rhetoric of the soul—if we would proceed, not empirically but scientifically, in the one case to impart health and strength by giving medicine and food, in the other to implant the conviction or virtue which you desire, by the right application of words and training.


...and in the words of the charming Aspasia... you would be wise to not criticize the feminine virtues so readily. For to cure the soul, one must also repeat charms that cure the head (Plato, "Cratylus").

Jen aka Pinky said...

FJ, I was honored to present a wreath at The Tomb of the Unknowns when I was 13. I will never forget that day. It's interesting to look back and see how certain events build upon each other to create a sense of patriotism and country.

FJ said...

The price of joining civil society is honouring it's victims and martyrs. If you not willing to pay the price, you're not fit to enjoy its protections.

beamish said...

The people who died in those buildings were no different in character than the roughly 20 million Americans who have died since that event. Some were rich and some poor. Some were annoying and some calming. Their families have already received an inordinate amount of money from Congress for having had the wisdom to lose their loved one in a national tragedy rather than something less outrageous.

Wisdom? Yeah, sure. What did the families of victims of 9/11 know and when did they know it? What nefarious methods did they employ to decieve their little lottery tickets to go to take those flights or work in the twin towers or the Pentagon that morning?

I suppose you have achieved the "enlightenment" that you'll likely never have a tombstone people want to piss on, but more posts like this might do the trick.

Big Al said...

Ron, my dear sweet friend, I believe the biggest difference between those that die in high-profile mass killings such as Pearl Harbor or the Oklahoma City bombing or @Columbine, CO high school or in the 9/11 World Trade Towers tragedy vs. someone losing their life in an auto accident or house fire is the big killings were pre-meditated murders carried out by those intent on killing innocents. One can argue Pearl Harbor doesn't fit in this definition since it was service-people, who themselves are paid and trained to kill others, killed by foreign service peoples in Hawaii. When I drive anywhere I have a firm belief 99.99% of my fellow drivers are not planning to kill me or anyone else. But with horrific acts like the terrorism that leveled the World Trade Center towers and killed hundreds, we collectively mourn the immediate, senseless, and brutal multiple killings of those who are totally innocent and had zero expectation they would be victims of such a heinous crime. And by publicly remembering & mourning their most innocent deaths, it helps to only strengthen our resolve and commitment to continue seeking out and bringing to justice those that seek to kill the innocents among us.

Lifehiker said...

I've read all these emotional comments, and I'm with you, Ron. There are a world of senseless deaths out there, and there's not much sense in memorializing one over the other.

Some fool on a bicycle shot three kids in Rochester this past weekend; the 12 year old girl died. Some drunk without a driver's license killed another person. Senseless deaths, in the thousands every year.

I feel strongly about pursuing and killing (if necessary) the terrorists. However, they are simply people who learned to hate us for reasons they think are good. If we'd had their life experiences, we'd likely be terrorists, too. Doesn't make it right, but that's the way it is. It's foolish to "hate them" or to get lost in revenge thoughts...that just makes us more like them.

The 9/11 victims were just unlucky. They were not heroes or heroines - they were just ordinary people like us all. We remember 9/11 with sadness for all the murder that occurred, but the individuals are no more or less important than the 12 year old shot by the bicycle man. Life is often unfair and sad.

Anonymous said...

Take note: hot button!
Sandi

Jen said...

Lifehiker,
it's not the victims of 9/11 who were the heroes, it was the men and women in uniform who died trying to save / protect them.
And as far as the terrorists just doing what they were taught? Do you feel the same way about Timothy McVeigh? I just don't think it's okay to pat a terrorist on the head (domestic or foreign) and say, "poor guy, he's just doing what he was taught".

I don't hate them. It's a waste of my energy. It only hurts me. I get that. But I will not fool myself into believing that people who kill for martyrdom / glory (like McVeigh and the 9/11 terrorists did) are victims of their environment. Yes, I know that radical islam can morph into brainwashing, in which the case can be made that the jihadists are victims of brainwashing. This is indeed a tragedy. However, they are murderers, nonetheless.

Please understand...I don't hate muslims. I don't hate rednecks. :-)

I don't HATE anyone. I simply believe strongly in supporting and memorializing those who defend our country during times of war.

I don't see 9/11 as a time of deification, rather remembrance, respect, and resolve. Never hatred. Hatred holds us back. Courage moves us forward.

Brooke said...

"They were not heroes or heroines...

What about United 93? DEFINITELY heros, as they averted yet another attack with their own self-sacrifice while trying to stop the terrorist who had hijacked the flight!

We probably shouldn't remember that either, eh? After all, they could have just as easily been run over by a truck or gotten old.

Lifehiker said...

Hey, ladies and gentlemen of hot tempers... I've got my volunteer ambulance uniform on as I write this, and lots of people have lived died, or died, while I did what I could for them.

I've gone into buildings that reeked of carbon monoxide, and I've walked around sparking wires. I've delivered babies in cars and upstairs on the floor. I've wiped old people's poop off their butts.

I've done lots of stuff that the average person would gag over. Am I a hero? No. I just do what I signed up for. Are those who rushed into the Trade Center any different from me? Yes. They did it as a job, and I do it for free. But, we all signed up for the risk. If we are heroes, it's at that time, not the time when we just do what comes naturally.

Tragedies abound...many are massive, like the tsunami or a ferry sinking or a mudslide in Haiti. Sometimes men cause them, like the Ruandan genocides or Myanmar's persecution of it's ethnic minorities. And, what about all the kids, worldwide, that starve every day? It's a sad world, lots of times.

So you don't believe that your life experiences turned you into what you are today? Or that the terrorists' experiences made them what they are? Put your head back in the sand then, and get comfortable.

In the meantime, say a prayer for me on the 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. shift tonight. I'd be obliged if nobody died.

Jen said...

If you don't like your volunteer position, don't do it. Serving with joy is far better than serving with bitterness. But I thank you for serving your community.

I obviously don't know you, but you seem to be very bitter and angry about life right now. I recognize it because I've been that way before.



Nobody ever said that the environment doesn't contribute to the whole person.

Lifehiker...you seem to think that I am unaware of the tragedy in this world...that because I have a more conservative political view that I am somehow blissfully untouched by the horror and pain of living on earth. This is the moment when you might consider pulling your head out of something..and it's not sand. I've buried a child, and my husband nearly had to bury me with her. I've spent more time in the ICU than anyone that I know (my age). I work with people with severe disabilities, so I am acutely aware of the pain and trauma that occurs in this world we ALL live and DIE in. Thankyouverymuch.

See? Simply because a person calls themselves "liberal" doesn't exactly make them "enlightened".
Pardon my sarcasm, but this attitude I sense just gets a bit old.

I truly do thank you for your service. And I honestly do hope that nobody dies on your shift.

I weep when I see stories on the news about child abuse and neglect, and elder abuse and neglect. I am confused and saddened when thousands of people die in tsunamies and earthquakes. However, I will NEVER stop honoring the good men and women who serve this nation (volunteer or not) to protect the citizens in time of war or peace. They are part, PART of what keep us united in the face of our enemy.

And there will always, always be an enemy. I wish it weren't true. I am not a war-monger, but to think otherwise is just ignorant.

FJ said...

I feel strongly about pursuing and killing (if necessary) the terrorists.

However, they are simply people who learned to hate us for reasons they think are good. If we'd had their life experiences, we'd likely be terrorists, too. Doesn't make it right, but that's the way it is. It's foolish to "hate them" or to get lost in revenge thoughts...that just makes us more like them.

So please explain why you feel "strongly" about the "necessity" of perhaps "killing" the terrorists.

They can't be both innocent good people AND people deserving of punishment. So which is it and WHY?