How does disaster affect an immortal?
I was twelve years old on September 11th, 2001 — not yet an immortal. Daniel was my age, but his older brother Eric was a sophomore in high school and understood what was happening more than us. We all felt it: shock, helplessness, confusion, anger… everything. But how does someone who has been around forever come to terms with this kind of event?
Here is what three other immortals told me.
The Humanitarian Viewpoint:
“I came from a time when if you wanted to travel, you walked; if you wanted to eat, you hunted. Most strangers you met outside of your clan were travelers instead of tourists and you traded instead of purchased. Having seen the world evolve from thatched homes to high-rise skyscrapers seemed too sudden, and three centuries of experience made me wonder what held them up — or how easily they might come down again. I passed the World Trade Center once on the streets of New York City, but I didn’t have the courage to go in; it’s a sad thing for me to admit.
“The towers intimidated me, and while I imagined they would one day be replaced as everything is, I didn’t suspect how little time they had left. It was a shared terror when I, like most people in America, saw everything on television. There wasn’t time to process it because we worried what else was about to happen, each staring unblinking at the screens as we prayed it wouldn’t get any worse. It wasn’t about why it happened; we just hoped we would find a moment to catch our breath.”
The Conspiracy Counterpoint:
“We were arrogant, and what we watched was a much-needed slap in the face. The United States wasn’t immune anymore, and we couldn’t ignore what the rest of the world took for granted. I remember being impressed with the first responders, seeing the self-sacrifice and personal risks to save anyone they could, but in the days that followed, it felt like Pearl Harbor all over again.
“I hate to suggest it, but Americans were more gullible in 1941; they never concerned themselves with the possibility that the Japanese might have been allowed their attack to prime the great war machine. The conspiracy theorists were more prevalent on 9/11, and the fuel for their worries was telling: how could our government not know this was about to happen? Why didn’t they stop it? Either it was allowed to happen or our elected officials were incompetent.”
The Washington Insider:
“In October of 1957, the Russians had beaten us into space. Forget about Hitler’s V-2 rockets raining down onto the British Isles; if the Commies then could launch something into orbit, who could say they couldn’t drop a nuclear warhead into the middle of America? That was what the Space Race and the Cold War was all about: fear — a positive emotion if you want to keep a society alive.
“Nine-Eleven is a reminder of what dedicated patriots have always known: eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. We became complacent and let our guard down. It was no one’s fault and everyone’s fault. What followed a single morning of horror was a reminder that we can all come together to help support one another. A little fear is always healthy because it creates a common cause, but it’s a pity it too often takes a disaster to remind us of that.”
Keep each other safe.