Sunday, September 11, 2005

Four

This isn't what I'd expected, four years on. I don't really know what I did expect, for that matter, at any point since. Terrorism thoroughly suppressed by a combination of well-meaning strategic interventionism and intimidating shows of overwhelming force? Of course not. This is a long game that won't end for decades, if ever. But I expected, just maybe, a little bit more maintenance of general concern. Acknowledgment that, no matter what political games are played at home or in the capitals of Europe, or even between the two, that there's still a vitally important war going on out there. It may not seem as urgent right at the moment - but it didn't seem very urgent before, either. Lileks made a brief aside last week that I've been thinking about ever since: The cluttered office is one of those things that always plagued me in the past – the reams of clips and handouts, the kitsch atop the monitor, bales of letters and sheaves of curling faxes, the grotesque amount of stuff generated simply by sitting a cubicle in a substantial corporation. What I like and need and want to keep goes home. At work from now on it’s just Gnat picts and plastic Pixar statuary. I was putting up the WW2 propaganda posters, the stuff I put up after 9/11, but I thought better of it. That was back when I thought we were all in this together. Back before 9/11 was supplanted by 9/12. But that’s another essay. Failing that general sense of community - the idea that left or right, we're all targets for a certain kind of barbaric medieval mind - I'd settle for the admission that it would be a Good Thing not to lose, or even be seen to back down. That seems to be harder to find nowadays, and understandably so; the rapid pace of events (and the unfortunate necessity of politics throughout, having to wage a rhetorical battle royale over every little thing, just to keep from losing ground to the unknown and potentially unreliable domestic opposition) is definitely fatiguing. Something like this, for instance, fills me with dread and disgust; if intentional, the choice of imagery is despicable. If accidental - which I'd be quite willing to believe, but for unconvincing invocations of pure chance on the part of the architects - it's still inappropriate. But I don't know that I have the will to be upset about it for very long. Is it too minor? Or is ignoring symbolism, provoking domestic adversaries or foreign enemies with visible weakness, a day-by-day path of slow surrender? Normality is pervasive. It's sometimes hard to keep up the willpower to remember what's actually going on, let alone be steadfast and resolute and uncompromising, when real life continues apace. There's still bills to pay and classes to attend and a job to do, and losing the drive to keep all those plates spinning while staring into the abyss is no less concession than head-in-the-sand isolationism. But I do remember, and I do act, and my response, my contribution, remains the same: I want to be a prosecuting attorney. I remember, and I owe - as we all do - a debt to the bulwark of civilization. I want to combat even the smallest threats, because doing so is just as necessary and important in the larger sense. Never forget. Never forgive.

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