Jewish World Review Nov. 30, 2001 / 15 Kislev, 5762
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com -- PRESIDENT Bush has asked us to get back to normal. Well, I've got some great news for the Prez. It's happening! Unfortunately, along with normal comes its adorning fixtures...impatience, expectations and plain ole rude.
I flew cross country this week...widthwise. A flight attendant explained to me how the first month or so following September 11th, people were unbelievably courteous, tolerant, even offering to help out. Actually clearing the aisles when asked. "Even the West Palm Beach flights." Long delays from repeated security and identification checks. Young men in camouflage and "bayonets" at the ready. All readily accepted. In fact, expected. Demanded.
Calm. Smiles at others, brother and sisters against the evil-doers, waiting in the long lines. "Thanks" given when searched...even when the searcher wasn't all that attractive. And now. And now...we are finally back to normal.
The 24-7 CNN watching has given way to maybe 1-3 of Headline News. "America At War" replaced by "America At The Mall." Network morning shows based down at Ground Zero now have Bill O'Reilly pimping his latest book. Yep. The car flags have yet to be frayed, but nerves have. Per the flight attendi I spoke with, we have officially gone from "what about we" to "what about me?" (Needed that to rhyme).
Quiet understanding of the formidable job at hand washed away by grating impatience and rolling eyes, irritated smirks and "back to normal" complaints. Somewhere in Caveworld, Osama is still breathing his hell fire and "Howya doin'" has been replaced with "I was here first." Of course, Partisanship in Congress and on the talk shows came much quicker. Not surprising when you consider that fact that these venues are largely male-based.
I'm always amazed how we as a people are pulled together by tragedy, but more so, how soon we forget the power and healing that come from our compassion and patience. We seem to want to embrace aggravation as a mitzvah.
I don't know if there's a sane person alive would wish for another 9/11-type tragedy, but can't we find some way to package the goodness and decency that followed? Y'know, so that every couple of months we could get a shot of the magnitude and strength of selflessness. This is not to say that we should be fretting over every step each of us takes, only that we consider how well taking those steps together worked.
11/16/01: Osama not enough for some