Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of words have been written to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the attack on America on September 11, 2001. As I reread my post from September 11, 2011, I was struck by how relevant it remains 10 years later (http://nosocksneededanymore.blogspot.com/2011/09/reflections-on-september-11.html).
Twenty years from that inflection point for America, and yes, the world, the calamity of 9/11 is that we are a divided nation torn apart by our inability to agree on the promise, much less the fulfillment, of what America stands for and its message to the rest of mankind.
Are we a Christian nation with prejudices against other religions, or a secular society, albeit with a dominant Christian population?
Are we a magnanimous nation open to aid democratic nations under duress and even autocratic countries humbled by natural disasters, or, as our history has repeatedly shown, are we a flawed, bigoted, imperialistic entity that chooses to engage the world only when it is in our own self-interest?
Are we color blind or racist to the core, with much of our citizenry ignorant, oblivious or indifferent to our collective history?
Are we a caring nation to our downtrodden, or has the last 90 years of social welfare legislation been an aberration?
Are we a forward thinking nation, or are we tethered and thus restrained by originalist allegiance to a document whose authors had no inkling to the advances in science, technology, medicine, industry, economics, political theory that would arise in the ensuing 230 years.
Are we a nation consumed by conspiracy theories, or do we believe in facts; are we a nation that reveres science over alchemy?
Are we a nation of laws and representative government, or has our noble governmental experiment reached its zenith before sliding back into the mix of countries and people dumbstruck enough to follow the rants and illusions of demagogues?
The tragedy of 9/11 is that in the ensuing 20 years America and much of the world have reverted to pre-Enlightenment tribalism. Just as the 9/11 attacks unified the country for a moment, it might take a similarly cataclysmic event to solidify our disparate nation once more.
The January 6 insurrection at the Capitol could have been such an event. Alas, it was not. How could it when members of Congress and the Senate, who were themselves targets of the attack, disavow its evil intent?
Just as we always remember December 7, we are told to “Never Forget” September 11. Add January 6 to the list of dates to always remember.