There are moments that are caught in amber, and our eyes and hearts are drawn to them. They are burned into calendars, specific days, timed to hours, minutes, second.
Hence Yom Ha'Shoah, and Kristallnacht. Hence the student standing in front of the tank at Tiananmen Square, and Mandela walking free from prison. Hence the first footage of an atomic explosion, and Oppenheimer quoting from the Baghavad-Gita as he watched it. Hence "The Eagle Has Landed" and twin rocket trails as Challenger's crew touched heaven and left us behind.
One plane driving into a tower on a crisp morning, sun cheerful in a blue autumn sky. Another doing the same to a sister tower, both blossoming into fire and death and running down narrow Manhattan streets, dust-blind and helpless. The third slamming into a bastion of the might of war, its might powerless in that moment. The fourth, fallen into a Pennsylvania field because some fought back.
Confusion and fright. Grief and wailing.
From there, anger and a war that has now gone on for 19 years, causing more grief and more wailing and unlikely to end anytime soon, perhaps destined to kill men and women in uniform, men and women and children trying to live their lives, scarring landscapes, consciences, minds and souls for years to come.
How should we remember? How should we mark such days? It's right to look back, but for how long, and in what way? And what can we take from this holy day?
It is holy, just as the other days and commemorations are holy. Holy days can be those in which we are forcibly reminded of our capacity for evil, as well as those days when evil is held in check, or even defeated. Such days are holy because they shake us to our foundations. They tell us "the world is not yet what it should be, and you have permission to be shaken. The next step is up to you, but yes, the world changed, and it's alright to be frightened."
So let us change this world. Let us be kinder. Let us remember and promise those we remember that we will be better humans if that's at all possible. That we'll do the hard work, even though that's scary.
Let us give the dead the benediction of our better angels.
Many thanks to eve11 for sparking these thoughts in me five years ago, with her link to this remembrance. This entry was originally posted at https://kaffyr.dreamwidth.org/775393.html?mode=reply, where there are currently comments. You can comment there or here, but prefer to read over on DW. You can comment there using open ID if you don't have a DW account.