Today is the second anniversary of the terroist attacks of September 11, 2001 and the newspapers, radio and TV are in full memorial overload. I’ve ranted about this before but it’s worth repeating. We in this country spend way too much time, effort, money and psychic energy on building monuments, holding retrospectives, and conducting memorials. I think the reason lies in the fact that it’s far easier to live in the past than it is to create the future – so that’s what we do.
There’s another aspect to this story, however, that Jeff Jarvis eloquently picked up on a week or so ago.
The more I think about this, the more I fear that we are still in the age of victimization, when being a victim is the highest political form, for a victim can’t be criticized, a victim gets to set the agenda, a victim gets to say what is offensive (and this is also the age of offense), a victim gets to act entitled (for this is also the age of entitlement). But we forget that being a victim also means that you’re weak, you lose. Victim is a past-tense word.
Please don’t think that I am unfeeling towards the families of the people who were the very real victims of the attacks. I don’t know anyone who was killed, although several friends were injured at the Pentagon. All of the family members certainly have the right to mourn their dead (and without a TV camera stuck in their face).
But even some of those suvivors believe we should devote more time on this anniversary to the present and future than we do to the past. That’s exactly the idea behind One Day’s Pay, an effort by some families of 9-11 victims to remember their relatives by making the date a national day of voluntary service. They would like everyone to devote one day of their time and effort (or in lieu of that, one day’s pay) to helping someone else. In other words, instead of dwelling on the horrible events of the past, do something to make the present and future better. It’s probably the most positive memorial we could possibly create.