The Clouds of Time.
The keep blowing away, don’t they?
I don’t have any photographs from ten years ago today; I was, like most Americans, I imagine, glued to my television or frantically calling friends and family or searching the internet for news.
One virtual place I went was Salon.com’s Table Talk, where I’d made many fine friends in my five years of posting there and where friends in New York were checking in as they could. I felt powerless to do much for them, being in San Francisco, a whole continent away, but I had to do some small thing, so I started writing and wrote this, that awful night:
Maggie O. – 11:35 pm Pacific Time – Sep 11, 2001 – #1480 of 10559
Today, the United States has faced the most serious attack ever on its soil; we have faced the greatest loss of life within our borders and we have faced the most serious attack on our most basic philosophy of life and government in our country’s short history.
But even in the shadow of this incredible evil we must reflect on the spirit of freedom and individual accountability and responsibility that has shaped our country from the beginning.
We are a nation of free men and women who have inherited a birthright of self-determination and self-reliance and we may be bent by this horrific attack on our sense of self and safety but our spirits will not be broken and our bodies, though bruised and burned will not yield to the despair of fear but we will find the fire of liberty and the hard steel of determination in our hearts and we will come together and defeat the fear that threatens our Nation and our souls.
I know in my heart that there were real heroes on UAL flight 93- I know that the only reason that airplane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania and not on our Capitol or on the White House is that there were real and genuine heroes onboard and that they gave their lives to save the lives of those in the Capitol or White House.
Think about that folks- there are superheros among us and they’re just like us- but unlike most of us, they were in a position to act and they acted and they probably saved untold lives and possibly the integrity of the U.S. government.
We are a Nation of Heroes.
We will not be broken.
We are brothers and sisters, standing together and standing firm in the face of fear.
We are Americans.
Goodnight, folks. Be well and rest up tonight, for we face a fight for our way of life like we haven’t seen since 1941.
I was surprised and thankful that my words had apparently given at least a bit of comfort to folks at Table Talk. I replied to their kind words the next day:
Maggie O. – 02:21 pm Pacific Time – Sep 12, 2001 – #1783 of 10559
Thanks for you kind words, folks.
I’m glad my words gave some sort of small comfort to someone. Faced with an empty sense of impotence and ignorance, I needed to do something to fill that void with something besides fear.
William James once said that love is an act of will, and I believe that when faced with the gaping void of ignorance, we all face a choice- do we allow fear to fill that void or do we exercise our will and instead fill that space within our souls with hope and with love?
Lord knows, many times in my life I have succumbed to fear, but last night the fear was simply too big to give into and I had to do something, I had to assert an act of will to fill that emptiness that had been created by that unspeakable act of evil.
In these coming days, I’d like to ask each and every one of you to exercise an act of will, an act of defiance in the face of evil, and take some time to fill your hearts with hope and with love.
Every day, we’re presented with thousands of choices. With each of these choices we’re given the opportunity to decide if we can make the lives of those around us better or worse- really simple things, actually- do we let that car merge in front of us, do we give up a seat on the bus to someone who needs it more than us- we face these sort of choices each and every day.
We’ve looked into the void, now let us, with each individual act of will, fill that void with light and hope and love.
That’s what photography is for me; sharing a moment of light with others, in hopes that maybe a bit of that light will keep the fire of humanity burning for a bit longer. Keep collecting and spreading the light, y’all.