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Jewish World Review Sept. 10, 2002 / 4 Tishrei, 5762

Art Buchwald

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Consumer Reports

To lose one's center | On Sept. 11, 2001, I lost my center. That is, the world as I knew it crashed in on me, as it did for everyone else in America.

Before that day I had dreams for my children and grandchildren. I felt safe.

Anything bad that happened was in the movies. Hollywood provided me with all my thrills and fears.

After 9/11, it took me a week to deal with the shock. I knew that I wasn't watching a movie. This was the real thing.

The TV screen became my information center.

Over and over they played the hijacked planes crashing into the Twin Towers on Wall Street, the Pentagon and somewhere in Pennsylvania. I saw frightened people running in the streets. I heard the wild guesses on how many victims were killed and how many were injured.

At that time no one knew who the terrorists were and no one had the answer as to how four airplanes could be hijacked at the same time.

I didn't know where Afghanistan was and I had never heard of al-Qaida or the Taliban.

For the first time, Osama bin Laden came into my life as the super villain of 9/11. He filled me with rage. The television screen showed old films of him and kept switching back to the World Trade Center.

I was sure we would find him and kill him.

That was the Special Forces' job.

If they want war, we'll give them war. We'll bomb them in the cities and in the caves. That is what Donald Rumsfeld was saying when he came on the screen.

I thought about what Attorney General Ashcroft would do to protect us from the enemy. How many constitutional rights would he have to take away from us to guarantee our safety?

The president said we were at war.

This wasn't a movie.

First we grieved for the victims of 9/11. Then a wave of patriotism swept the country. We were told to go about our business but remain vigilant and alert.

As the year went by, things happened. I had lost my center, but Wall Street had lost its moral compass.

We couldn't trust anybody any more.

The major institutions that I believed in were found to be driven by greed. We no longer trust accountants, brokers, banks and what the CEOs tell us.

People's pensions were wiped out. Executives were arrested. Coming on the heels of 9/11, I didn't know whom to trust anymore.

We carpet bombed Afghanistan but we never found bin Laden.

We won the war but the peace is still to come.

I tried to go about my business as I had before, but it wasn't the same and never would be.

I tried to make plans for the future but my heart wasn't in it.

I was told by the president we have to invade Iraq, but he didn't tell me how to do it.

For the first time I knew there was somebody out there who wanted to kill me.

In the past I thought terrorists were people far away. After 9/11 I felt they were right next door.

My world was no longer what I wanted it to be. It was not a movie.

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08/27/02: No smoking --- I love you
08/23/02: Ashes to ashes
08/14/02: Wall Street good news
08/09/02: Things in my attic
08/01/02: Damage control
08/01/02: Another icon
07/30/02: Draft all the lawyers
07/25/02: House for rent
07/23/02: Doin' time
07/19/02: The loophole game
07/16/02: Money as a game
07/11/02: Just desserts
07/02/02: So you want to win?
06/19/02: Homeland security parking
06/13/02: The Accused
06/11/02: Don't let them know
06/06/02: The FBI changes its ways
06/04/02: RED ALERT
05/28/02: Malice On Purpose: I'm scared!
05/23/02: Barbie Doll
05/21/02: Why Bermuda?
05/19/02: White collar prisons
05/15/02: Those in depression
05/09/02: Mother's Day in the market
05/07/02: Salary negotiations
04/26/02: Homeland security
04/24/02: The greatest breakthrough
04/18/02: Conflict of Interest
04/15/02: The Sign That Couldn't
04/11/02: It's Cherry Blossom Time
04/08/02: The Young Audience
03/31/02: Safe Deposit for Sale
03/26/02: Au Revoir to Soft Money
03/21/02: Andersen Defense Fund?
03/19/02: Celebrity kickers
03/15/02: A Mickey Mouse solution
03/13/02: Shadow government in the sandbox
03/07/02: The Way It Is
03/05/02: Not telling the truth
03/01/02: Book flogging
02/27/02: The players are mad

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