It’s been two days since the mass bombing in Belgium and the death count is up to 34 with 270 people, approximately, injured. I’ve had the news on all day, listening to the coverage: could the attack have been avoided, how can we avoid future attacks, interviews with Belgium people about how they see their country changing into a refuge for terrorists - or not…every angle. Every single angle. And now they are in their second official day of mourning.
Belgium officials called for three days of national mourning.
Hm. Interesting. “Days of mourning.” Bush, Giuliani, Colin Powell - none of these people called for any national days of mourning immediately after 9/11. Even though other countries like Ireland and Pakistan called for days of mourning in their countries in solidarity with the US. With us. But here, Bush declared September 14th 2001 as “National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for the Victims of the Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001.” It took until October 25th for Congress to pass a bill to proclaim September 11th and annual “Patriot Day,” which was to be a national day of mourning. The first patriot day was on September 11th, 2002.
A year later.
I’ve long argued that we Americans are not healed from 9/11. We never had the time to heal because we went from shock to rage to war and we never mourned. We never really mourned as a country. We had no leader - spiritual or emotional - at that time to help us comprehend what had happened and guide us through. Giuliani tried, but he wasn’t very inspiring. What he was was practical. Bush’s vehement remarks about “keeping our lives going, not letting the Terrorists win” seemed rational at the time, but now, looking back - we didn’t even take one day, one single day, to shut down the government, the offices, the schools to recognize the pain, the loss, the grief we went through after having lost 2,977 fellow citizens. Does that make sense to you?
It makes no sense to me. And then Colin Powell that very day called the attacks an “act of war.” I couldn’t believe my ears. Perhaps it was an act of war. Perhaps it was mean to incite us to violence, to retaliate. But to be so brazen as to announce that on national/international media? That was irresponsible towards the American people, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of civilian Afghanis and Iraqis who died because of that state of mind.
Yesterday there were no declarations that ISIS’ bombing in Belgium is an act of war. There was only calm talk of mourning and of finding the one surviving member of the cell, to bring him to justice.
I forgive America for fucking up our response to 9/11. I don’t forgive the missed opportunities to try and rectify how we fucked it up. We built three buildings, we continue to build memorials, occasionally, there’s some commemorative event on September 11th - particularly on the 10 year anniversary. But we, as a nation, are so emotionally shut down, we don’t even know how to properly process what happened to all of us on that day.
In my ideal world, on September 11, 2016, George W. and Giuliani and Colin Powell and the Supreme Court would hold a press conference to apologize for not allowing us all time to mourn and then dedicating the week to processing the experience - through the arts, through lectures, through sermons in churches and synogogues and mosques, through meditation and through sharing with one another. This is what our country needs. Much as a child who has suddenly lost his sister, we need this time to cry as a country.
Some of us have done our individual crying. But we have not cried as a country. Partly because crying is still erroneously thought of as weak. But, as most people know in their hearts, crying is just a way of making room for hope again. And we must make that space if we are to come together as a country.