Jewish World Review Jan. 21, 2002 / 8 Shevat, 5762
Maybe the events in the United States, and around the world, since September are just being used as a justification -- maybe the changes that are occurring were inevitable, were already well on their way, and we are missing the point by connecting them to the nation's wariness about terror.
Maybe -- had Sept. 11 passed calmly, with no extraordinary news at all -- this would have transpired all the same.
Considered individually, these just seem like news stories, each related to an America under transformation since the nation was attacked:
The value of being somewhere -- the very notion of being somewhere -- is no longer absolute. Since Sept. 11, Americans have been using their skittishness about that day to explain away some already strongly felt preferences.
The altered attitude about business travel fits into that category. And a desire to -- here's that terrible word -- cocoon in uncertain times makes the lure of telecommuting attractive to some. You have to make a living, but you want to be close to your family. It used to be all but impossible -- you had to choose. Now the technology permits a person to have both -- and the national mood of the last four months makes having both seem acceptable in a way it never has before.
But this was coming well before September -- this profound change in the way people feel about the concept of place was under way and picking up steam. Sept. 11 served to provide a rationale, when in fact the change had already begun and could not be stopped. Americans, who historically had resisted the constrictions of being tied to one place, were extending that resentment to having to be any place. Place, bit by bit, became moveable; place -- once the most unequivocal and solid of concepts -- became fluid. It used to be like granite; now it was like mercury.
Slippery, slithery, here and gone -- place was outfitted with running shoes. How can a cell phone also be a home phone? Only in a world where home is a relative term. You can't be out when you're never in -- "I'm not here right now" rings false. Of course you are. Where's here? Everywhere. You're there, all right.
This is just the beginning. Whoever said no man is an island was thinking of a
different kind of island -- the kind that stayed