Sunday, September 11, 2011

A 9/11 reflection - my $.02

Of the surprisingly few cinematic responses to 9/11, the best for my money is "Munich" (2005), a thoughtful and nuanced examination of the need for a nation to respond to terror and how that response dehumanizes that nation and compromises its ideals. The character Robert (Mathieu Kassovitz) sums it up nicely:
I don't know if we were ever that decent. Suffering thousands of years of hatred doesn't make you decent. But we're supposed to be righteous. That's a beautiful thing. That's Jewish. That's what I knew, that's what I was taught and I'm losing it. I lose that and that's everything. That's my soul.
I don't think we're a better or stronger nation as a result of that horrible day ten years ago. I am not nostalgic for the unity we felt during the following months, as it was based almost entirely on shared terror and was easily exploited into support for some very damaging government policies. I don't think we lost our innocence that day, any more than we lost our innocence when Oklahoma City was bombed or when Nixon was (almost) impeached or Kennedy was killed or Pearl Harbor was hit. We're a major world power with a good deal of personal freedom -- we know that terrible things will sometimes happen despite our best efforts.

I like to think we've grown somewhat as a country in the past ten years, and that we have a more mature understanding of America's place in the world and the vulnerabilities we face just by being alive. But I also find that it just takes a few TV images of burning towers to transport me back to that morning ten years ago when I awoke in horror and began to wonder about the world my unborn son would inherit.


saribotton said...

Well said, Seth. I remember IM-ing with you that morning, while in total shock. I recall being glad that the attacks hadn't taken out internet service so we could be in touch that way.

Seth Masket said...

AOL IMing seemed like such a strange way to be in touch. But I remember being very relieved to hear from you.