A World of Speculation

Friend and fellow blogger Karl comments on yesterday’s post: ““And by next week most of the world will have forgotten and ‘moved on.'”

It’s true, of course, “most of the world.” A lot of it never stopped in the first place. But most isn’t all.

When I came to understand the enormity of what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, I had become someone else. I’m not the only one. I’ve heard of some people bemoaning the change, being concerned that they had become harder, more vengeful. More frequently the responses I’ve heard or read for myself have gone along the lines of being mugged by reality, coming face to face with evil, understanding the depth of what human beings are capable of doing.

For me, it was more a case of lighting up a dark corner of reality I’d never really explored–an illumination of the imagination. I had been aware of terrorist attacks over the years–the murder of the Israeli athletes at the Munich games, the IRA’s bombing of a department store in London, the first World Trade Center bombing and the Oklahoma City bombing, and, too many to name, the truck bombs and suicide bombs in Israel.

Until 9/11, I passed them like traffic pile-ups, acknowledging in some general way that it was too bad, but not entering the experience. I filed the events in that dark corner where evil dwells, and where it doesn’t bother me because, well, because nothing real happens, or so I thought. I accuse myself of a great crime: a failure of imagination.

After 9/11, that corner is bright with the illumination of the exploding towers, and it doesn’t matter any more if the evil is close by or far away, if the victim is “my kind” or someone else’s. Now I know. I know how it feels to lose someone, to wonder about someone’s fate, to see heroes die saving others’ lives, to see people choosing death by falling from 100 stories over death by fire. I didn’t experience any of it directly, but the eyes of my imagination have been opened. Interests, activities, topics and controversies come and go, but that lamp is always burning.

A detail from Spain that adds its light to the corner: In a car where all the passengers have died, cell phones ring, one after another or many at once, chirp, beep, play melodies. People calling their loved ones to find out if they’re all right, and the phones like aural memories of dead, gone, everyday life.

And today millions gathered in Spain to say that they were not beaten.

What those fools, those murderers, don’t know is that every time they commit such atrocities, they spark that fire in more hearts–not all, maybe not even most–but more, until–maybe–no darkness in the world will hide them. And sooner or later, whether in the short run they win or lose, they will harden like trolls at the break of dawn.