Sunday, September 11, 2011

We're somewhat better off...I think...

Today is the 10th anniversary of the attack on the United States. On September 11, 2001 two hijacked airplanes flew into the Twin Towers in New York, one hijacked plane flew into the Pentagon and one plane that was almost hijacked but diverted by brave brave people on the plane crashed into a field in Shanksville, PA. We were under attack and it was really really scary.

Aha and I had just woken up for the day and while he was brushing his teeth and I was rubbing sleep from my eyes, I turned on the NBC news (as I always did). What I saw was that it appeared that the World Trade Center was on fire.

"Honey, come here, the World Trade Center is on fire." I said.
"What??", he said?

As he walked in and we stood together in front of our television, we watched the 2nd plane fly right into the second tower.

I wasn't sure what I was seeing. My first thought was "wow...what an accident...". Inside of about 5 minutes, I knew it wasn't an accident.

We were under attack and it was very very scary. My life, along with everyone else's life, changed forever that day. Ten years later, the question seems to be, for the better or not? back up a bit, the 9/11 attacks (as they came to be known) were not the first "where where you when...." event that happened in my lifetime. Fortunately, in my 43 years, there haven't been many but they include in no particular order:

* The Challenger explosion 1986 - in high school english class
* Regan being shot - in elementary school
* The first African American being elected president - on my couch with Aha
* The first woman being nominated for vice president - with my parents
* The Northridge earthquake - lying in my bed feeling it
* The death of:
-- Michael Jackson
-- Jerry Garcia
-- Freddie Mercury
-- John John Kennedy

But 9/11 is the one event in my lifetime that has had permanent repercussions.

All of the sudden, no one felt safe any longer. We were here in California wondering if the terrorists were coming here next. Would it be like the movies? Would there be a takeover and we'd all be killed?

That first 24 hours were errie. All we did was watch television. Those two planes flying into the World Trade Center towers over and over and over and over again. It got to the point where I just couldn't watch it any longer.

It took a long time and eventually, life became what is known now in our house as "the new normal". Travel changed, mailing things changed, our level of safety confidence changed. We could never ever go back.

But now, ten years later, there is a tremendous debate about whether we're better off or not. Well, let's see; thanks to some tool who put a bomb in his shoe, we have to take off our shoes when we go through security at the airport. Thanks to a different tool, we can't take more than the amount of 3 oz bottles that fit in a medium size Zip Lock bag. That didn't piss me off because I am a bag checker...I don't carry my suitcase on if I can avoid it. That's why God invented the belly of the plane, right? What irritated me was that I couldn't bring my coffee, a bottle of water or any drinkable liquid into the airport and through security. But whatever, I'll survive.

You'll notice that I'm not kvetching about the fact that they want to x-ray my carry on bag, that my computer has to have its own little bin to go through the x-ray or that they want to practically have me strip down to my bra and panties so they can see if I'm trying to smuggle something illegal on board (which I never am). I don't even care so much about the new x-ray that everyone thinks is too invasive. If some TSA person gets their rocks off checking out my boobs or nether region, then yeah for them; frankly I'm excited that I excite anyone these days.

What would I care about? Being groped, that wouldn't work, but since I haven't been, mostly because I consent to the x-ray, I'll leave it at - YOU MAY NOT TOUCH MY UNDER THE NEATH PARTS. YOU GET TO CHECK ME OUT VIA X-RAY AND THAT'S IT.

You will notice that I will also not use this space to mention that in nine years of flying Aha has never been asked to show his prescription for his Copaxone (all filled syringes) and when we were going through IVF, I was not asked to show a letter or a prescription for over 20 empty and over 10 filled syringes as well as multiple filled little bottles. Nope, no one wanted to talk about them. Oh well.

Here's the thing - we are better off and here's why.

It hasn't happened again.

People are more vigilant. It was regular people who noticed that a car was parked in Times Square and something wasn't quite right. It was regular people who have helped airline staff subdue all kinds of wacky people that try to get to the cockpit and/or to the flight team.

People aren't getting their machetes on to the planes (really, who needs that on a plane?) and people are more cognizant of who is on their planes and their behavior.

Now, there are plenty of ways we're not better off - the top five spots on that list belong to racial profiling. That makes me so incensed! How dare someone treat a person badly because they are wearing a headscarf!! How dare someone treat another human being badly because of their religion. I could go on for pages and pages, but I think you get the drift.

People will tell you that we're being spied on and that our privacy is being breeched. I am not here to try to change your mind if that's you. That's not the purpose of my blog. You are entitled to your own opinion.

However, here's my thoughts on it. Here's my thoughts on the TSA's ability to seem to go way way way overboard sometimes. Here's my insight into why we slap rules on ourselves when bad things happen.

Change happens very very very slowly. We are only ten years out from that horrible day. We're still working out the kinks of how to protect ourselves from the bad people in the world (in this case, "bad people" = anyone who wants to bring harm to the USA). We're still in a pretty reactionary time. Think about ten years in the context of the fact that we're a pretty young country. Also, think of ten years in the context of politicians are the ones making the decisions. I will save my thoughts on our government for another post. But, they really irk me.

So, we might be a little too over to one side when it comes to protecting ourselves. And we're not so fabulous about laying out perimeters. Finally, we don't seem to be so great at managing the process and checks and balances. We'll get there. The pendulum will swing. Think about how far the other way the pendulum was before 9/11. Before 9/11 you could get to the airport 30 minutes before your flight and be fine (unless you were in my family, we always got there hours before). Now, post 9/11, you need to allow over an hour to get through the aforementioned security screening process. We'll get there. It takes time and it takes mistakes to figure out what we need to do to adjust.

I think we need to spend less time being irked about processes that are keeping us safe and more time figuring out why we treat each other so badly. Why racism still exists in this country. Why people care about who we marry. Why the children in our country aren't getting educated as they should. Why we all can't seem to communicate very well and instead we shoot each other. Spend the time on that and not on why the TSA wants to see your bra. I mean really.

A few thanks are in order on, this the 10th anniversary of 9/11:
Thank you to all of the people who ran INTO the buildings to try to save as many people as they could. Thank you to the men and women of all the Police Departments and Fire Departments who worked tirelessly to save people and clean up the disastrous mess. Finally, thank you to the families who lost their loves ones as responders, first or otherwise. You performed the greatest sacrifice. You supported a person who gave their life in order to help others. They gave the greatest thing they could, their life and while I'm not sure about heaven and hell, I do feel that they have been put in a place where they can be happy. Please know that your family member is still a brave soul.

We'll get there. Be patient. But look at it this way, it's not happened again and that's a good sign.

America - we rock,

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