Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11th

I wasn't going to post about the anniversary today. But I was over on TunaGirl's site today and felt a need to respond to some of the comments to her post about not being interested in gawking at Ground Zero when she was in New York. Bonnie, one of her regular readers, wrote,

"I actually saw some website where someone had some little toy - a smurf or something. Their thing was to take it to tourist attractions & take a picture of it in front of the tourist attraction.

Yes. They actually did one at the WTC site. I couldn't believe it. I almost left a comment asking if they had thought for an instant about what had happened there whille taking their funny little picture, ha ha ha how humorous.

But then I thought 'Why bother?'."

I thought I would share with you what I wrote.

TunaGirl, I am completely of your mindset regarding Ground Zero as a tourist attraction. I personally have no interest. And Bonnie, I think your disgust at the Smurf picture is appropriate. However, the Smurf got me thinking about tourism. Isn't a major part of almost every tourist's agenda visiting some monument to tragedy or another? Ford's Theater, the Wall, other war memorials and statues dedicated to world-changing people who died too young. Birmingham, Alabama has created a sculpture garden to remind us of when children were assaulted with fire hoses and attacked with dogs.

We must make our history into a place to visit or it really will be forgotten in this world that sits in front of its TVs and computers and considers itself "global."

There will always be children who do not yet have the world-view to comprehend the magnitude of the event that is commemorated and adults who deal with the enormity of emotional impact through humor and lightheartedness. It is human nature and to rail against its occurance at a site that our generation considers sacred is a waste of time. The families of Civil War soldiers grieved just as much as the families do now. However, tours of the old battle sites are marketed as entertainment. My own disgust is reserved for local TV news that hunts down Chicago folks that haven't yet told the stories of their harrowing escape from the 103rd floor 5 years ago: a story that is also, coincidentally, bound to boost ratings.

People will be people. We all acknowledge horror when and how we can. Anniversaries and tourist destinations are a step toward keeping history remembered so that it is not repeated. Just as there is not such thing as bad publicity, there is no such thing as bad monuments, reagardless of how flawed the motives of the participants may be.

As we remember, all we can do is work to make the world a better place for people to live out their lives in all of the fullness that God intended them to have.

29,000 children (compare that number to how many died on this day 5 years ago) die every day, most of them due to hunger and preventable diseases. HIV and AIDS orphans more than 6,000 children every day. Our sense of violation is real and valid. Some perspective on our place in the world make solutions to our grief obvious.

I wish I had remembered to mention that several of the holidays that we take off from work for, such as Martin Luther King Day and Veteran's Day, have also been sullied by one-day-only sales and Law and Order marathons. Somehow, though, because it is someone else's tragedy, we do not feel such disdain for those people that aren't as respectful as we would like them to be.

I am not attacking anyone for their hypocrisy. I'm owning up to it right alongside everyone else. Hypocrisy is another part of human nature and it just wastes time to insist that it shouldn't be. But once we recognize it for what it is, I believe we are duty bound to try to make reparation for our own callousness toward the grief of others wherever we can. Although those others may no longer be alive, it is OK to pay that debt to those who are, even if they may not be related at all. All good done to others gets tallied on the same scoreboard.

If you're interested in the entire conversation, you can find Tuna's post here.

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