Thursday, April 27, 2006

On the Eve of the Release of the Flight 93 Film and the Squandering of Second Chances

I'm out in the boonies so I know I won't be trekking into the city to see the new film United 93. And as such, I can obviously have no opinion one way or the other until/unless I do see it (which to be honest, I'm just not inclined to do at this point -- call it lack of psychological readiness in addition to lack of proximity).

However, for the past couple of days I have been thinking about this: those people now occupying / living / working in the two institutions that were to have been the final target of that flight (apparently the plane was supposed to crash into either the White House or the Capitol Building).

I don't have the thoughts and words fully formed, rather they flow more as a stream of consciousness banging from within demanding to get out, so I will honor that unformed energy for now -- it simply is what it is. And the thoughts, feelings include this, an 'internal' conversation of sorts:

You wouldn't much know by their actions or words during the last four plus years that any of the people in those 'hallowed' institutions have any drizzle or drop of heightened consciousness, enlightenment or awareness much less a renewed sense of moral obligation, would you?

Do you detect even the tiniest sense that they comprehend / apprehend even slightly that their own lives were saved by the passengers of Flight 93? That they were given that true second chance by those brave souls?

Precious, unfathomable gifts from extraordinary strangers (regular, ordinary people by all accounts) who sacrificed their own lives sooner rather than waiting to be devoured in another fiery crash into another icon of this country (whichever one it would have been) -- another crash that might have burned and devoured thousands more, thus saving the lives of those 'leaders' and those thousands more.

No, I don't think you can tell (by their words, deeds, actions) that the folks roaming the halls of power whose lives were intentionally spared by the passengers of United 93 have reflected upon that little tidbit, can you? At least I sure can't.

And having failed to reflect, having failed to consider the rare second chance for life they received from those strangers, they have squandered that historic opportunity for seriously, truly important, meaningful deeds and actions -- and thus have squandered both individual and collective (and authentic) redemption.

Indeed, they squandered and they continue to squander every opportunity they might have used for truly honoring the humanity of the people who saved them (and us) from a second horrifying, heart- and mind-numbing tragedy on 9-11.

These so-called 'leaders' and power-holders -- these influencers of men and kings who jet off to golf in Ireland, who leak secrets and launch character assaults on dissenters, who stuff their pockets and purses and wallets with buy-offs and trade-offs and bribes, whose lies and manipulations resulted in war and several other thousand (unnecessary, wasted) deaths, cripplings, blindings, maimings -- these spared 'leaders' have diddled it all away while wallowing in their own petty ambitions. And as such have further betrayed the grave duties they originally undertook.

I know whose lives I'd sorely be tempted to offer in trade were that option available.

But wait -- they have gone much farther by betraying an even graver, more sacred duty bestowed upon them by their real-life human saviours -- people who gave them that real, concrete, actual rare second chance to live -- a gift from strangers, truly heroic human beings who cared more about others (enough to sacrifice their own lives on that historic day, in that historic way).

These leaders we continue to tolerate have failed in the deepest, most disturbing ways possible -- in ways that only the most sociopathic, narcissistic, damaged or psychopathic fail -- by not receiving and honoring the gift from the ultimate sacrifice of others: to make more of their lives, to better serve the world, their families and their communities.


WP article here, review here; NYT review here; and LATimes review here (by the excellent, always thought-provoking, highly conscious, Kenneth Turan).


At April 28, 2006 3:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Misplaced controversy.

The writer places the controversy on whether the passengers actually breached the cockpit, but it is the White House or Capitol choice that limits the historical debate. In 1994, an al Qaeda plot to bomb about a dozen passenger jets and fly one into the CIA headquarters was disrupted in Manila.

The CIA headquarters complex in Langley, Virginia more closely matches the targets for the day -- modern buildings that represent greed and violence to some and possess no cultural value to others. A different 9/11 plot would have targeted the White House, Capitol, and Statue of Liberty, or several nuclear power facilities.

History is slippery stuff when it comes to burying real controversy and inventing meaningless ones for historians to debate.


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