“History is doomed to repeat itself.” The phrase was stuck in my head last night and I awoke to its refrain this morning, September 12. Which is nuts.
History may be doomed to repeat itself, but no one much thinks about September 11 on September 12.
Unless you’re someone like me, I guess.
If you’re someone like me, you try not to think about 9/11 on September 11. You don’t want to think about 9/11 because you don’t like having your emotions manipulated by the media. If you’re like me, you don’t want to think about 9/11 because you don’t wish to immerse yourself in a tragedy for a single day and then move on. You don’t want to feel cleansed.
For people like me, you see, 9/11 isn’t a one-day event.
People like me, well, we think about terror all the time. We have fear in our hearts. We are afraid of losing the immediacy: the sense of danger that terror can strike anyone at any time, without warning. People like us don’t believe in catch-phrases like “Never again.”
We dread being caught off-guard, caught frozen: the deer in the headlights thing.
9/11 can happen again. Has happened again. 9/11 is Charlie Hebdo, Richard Lakin, and San Bernardino. Only the details are different and the scale. What changes is the location, the method, and the number of people directly affected.
The motive is absolutely the same.
And here is something interesting: “History is doomed to repeat itself” is not the actual quote. The actual quote is this: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana)
This means remembering that the motive behind 9/11 still exists, is still ever-present, still strong. We are not even close to eradicating radical Islamic terrorism from our world when so many of us cannot even say the phrase “radical Islamic terror.” And there is no mistaking the idea that radical Islamic terror is the force behind 9/11, its tears and fears, and the thing that threatens to repeat.
It is the day after 9/11 that we must be resolved to remain sober, sad, shocked, and in pain. September 12 is the day we must remember what bonds us as human beings and conversely, the thing that threatens to rips us apart at the seams, consuming all good, all kindness, all the things that makes us what we are.
It is precisely the day after all the media hype, after videos like this one go viral:
. . . that we must watch the videos and feel the feelings afresh, let them wash over us.
So that in remembering the past, we won’t be condemned by our forgetfulness.