wtc tragedy - wtf??!! (pt2)
(sept 14, 2001)

For someone who lives thousands of miles away from New York and only connected to the tragedy by means of CNN and Channel 7's news broadcast, the shock has worn off a bit. I'm not saying that I've stopped looking up each time I hear the potentially dreadful humming of airplanes or helicopters soaring across Melbourne sky, nor have I managed to not get too depressed after watching the news so I can get back to work with some enthusiasm.

But the reality has finally sunk in. It did happen. There's no undo button. The world dynamics have shifted. Probably irreversibly.

As I watch the Americans at their most vulnerable point in modern history, having the feeling of invincibility on their own soil snatched away from them by an incomprehensibly determined few armed only with knife and box cutters, I can't help but wonder, how safe are the rest of us? The World Trade Centre, with a structural design equivalent to one of a fort, buckled under fire, bringing down and burying thousands of civillians with it.

The rubble alone is seven storeys high. The world watches as the dazed and tired rescue workers nitpick slowly over the twisted metals and concrete slabs, hoping for a yelp, or a whimper, beneath these crumpled structures. The task and the thought of the odds of rescue getting fainter by the minute would wear anyone out. But these people are patient.

Nitpicking. Slowly. I can't think of a more futile image right now.

But there is another footage that really breaks my heart. The one showing the Palestinians dancing and chanting on the streets, celebrating this unbelievable atrocity. If anything can seem more incredulous than the images of the Boeings crashing into the towers, it's this footage. Watching it brought a sense of total logical disconnect. Thousands. Civillians. Dead. People. Dancing. It was too unsettling to be surreal.

Celebrating the sudden death of thousands of human beings, most or all of them you've never seen and known before, is just not right. It doesn't even make sense. You do not know these people. You have the slightest idea what they have or haven't done. So what could be the possible reason for your celebration? What they did or what they didn't do? You don't know what they did or what they didn't do.

I understand the Palestinians, as many other nations, have serious grievances against the U.S. Their international policies aren't exactly fool-proof. In fact it did piss a lot of people. Most probably one of the main reasons the terrorists slammed the planes on America's landmarks in the first place. Revenge is never naturally subtle.

But whatever happened to human courtesy? We just witnessed human hatred manifested in its worst possible execution. (Although right now I shouldn't be using worst possible-anything. After the tragedy there's no telling how much further people can bring humanity down.) Our human faith on our own limit and capability of violence is under severe test. And becoming more questionable than ever.

But even if the worst has happened and humanity has gone spiraling downward at speed we cannot fathom. Even if the world no longer makes sense and feels safe from unspeakable wrath.

Let us hold on to courtesy. If that's the last thing we have.


Slate for interesting insights on the WTC tragedy.