11 September 2011

Liberty in Low Light

This past week I have been subjected to stories and images which have dug into scars, designed specifically to tear them open, to make them fresh, to make them worse.

These stories and images aren't designed to heal, rather they are designed to make their indelible mark on the psyche of anyone within their reach. A media storm endeavoring to keep the machine in motion by preying on empathy.

Call me heartless, call me a bad American, I don't care. Our liberties have been consistently trampled on for ten years, culminating in a decaversary which has made the news media slobber all over every one of us.

You may fall for it, you may fall in line to pay your respects to the traveling chunks of wreckage, buy the books, gobble up the coverage, and, quite possibly, you may have your identity as a global citizen drawn on a backdrop of two iconic buildings, photographed with the rising sun, creating a religiously enticing image. Add an eagle and a flag, and you have an industry of bumperstickers, memorial flags and yellow ribbons.

I can't take it anymore. I am sickened by it.

A beam from the World Trade Center and a chunk of stone from the Pentagon came touring to my area this week. Of course, the news was there. Also, there was a line of people there to view these bits of wreckage. When the news reported this, several images and words disgusted me beyond anything I have seen or heard lately.

One was a woman grasping the wrist of the very small child she was holding in her arms, and making that child touch and stroke the chunk of concrete as it were a holy relic. She was speaking to the child as she did it. I have no idea what she was saying, as it was just a backdrop to the reporter's story. The image, I suppose was included to pull at someone's sense of loss. After that was a man stroking and patting the steel beam pulled from the tower's wreckage. I had to shake my head at the utter meaninglessness of the actions.

As I was digesting these images, the story went to an interview of a woman and her child. This child, as the newsperson reported, is officially the youngest survivor of the attacks. He proudly declared that he is only "alive today because god has a special purpose for me".

My heart and stomach fell to my feet. I know an adult, most likely his mother, has told him this all of his life. But that did not stop the bilious feeling I had toward that child at that moment. How utterly selfish for anyone to believe such rubbish in the wake of nearly 3000 deaths that day, and the thousands of other lives which have been lost fighting over the attacks.

Did those people not have a purpose? I think the children, wives, husbands, parents, and friends of all those lost on that day, and every day since would disagree. Was the only purpose in these poor dead people's lives to make the rest of us feel lucky? Was the only purpose in their deaths to fuel the machine?

I don't know, right now I don't know much except I am sick from all of this. I am sick of the media leading us down these paths, telling us how we should feel, asking the victims families how they feel just to make a story. Just as sick as the day I walked through Lower Manhattan and was assailed by a man trying to sell me a "Ground Zero Guide" for two bucks. There was another man on the corner across the street doing the same. Sick, I tell you.

I'm sick of the machine that makes money off of this terrible day, while spending tax dollars feeding itself, and creating images to make Americans fall in line, to create patriotism, and to bring fresh tears to the cheeks of people who are absolutely tired of cryng.

I created a few images, last year, of my days in New York. You see, though I am D.C. born, though I have been raised nearly exclusively on Army bases around the world, though I now live in a deep Dismal Swamp, New York has been my city. I love New York. I have spun dizzily while looking up between those two iconic towers, I have walked the streets and absorbed the essence of the city. I feel the loss.

I don't need to be reminded in the name of Liberty. Please, have mercy.

'Liberty in Low Light' painting by Darla Vaughan

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