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  • Writer's pictureDr. Bow Tie

Reflections on 9/11/2001

Math class. 7th grade pre-algebra (or algebra?) to be (semi-) exact. But no math was done that day, because we were all watching with rapt attention as our country was turned upside down, and we swore to #NeverForget.

In the aftermath, if there was any racism directed towards me, I’m lucky enough not to have noticed it or maybe I just don’t remember. I know plenty of people who were not as lucky.

We focused instead on those who had died and those who had survived or been left behind. We meant to come together (but other folks who look more like me got demonized).

In the 20 years since then, we still remember the tragedy, and the concept of #NeverForget. But we did forget how to actually apply those memories, how to actually care for our fellow people. We forgot that it’s more than just words, and more than just a static “feeling.” Things have changed drastically in 20 years, including our nation.

9/11/01 became the new standard by which we measured all disasters, all national tragedies. But nowadays as we face the latest in tragedy, those sentiments from the aftermath of 9/11 seem much more scarce.

More people died on Friday from COVID-19 than did on 9/11/01. That toll has continued to rise (despite its ups and downs) but instead of coming together, people grew weary of doing that and instead doubled down on “personal freedom” - except that’s not what it was. It was an unwillingness to change any of what had previously made us comfortable, even if the change was in order to help ourselves out of the disaster, to come together in service of others. Instead of working towards a collective freedom from illness and healthcare disparities, we thought only of ourselves.

So I know we still remember. We will #AlwaysRemember. But I sometimes wonder if we actually did forget the lessons it taught us.

Some of you are going to be angry at me for posting this. So I will back it up with someone whose Tweets display an even more personal stake in 9/11 AND in the current pandemic.

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