On this day every year there are countless blogs, articles, editorials, moments of silence and events of remembrance for the anniversary of the most earth-shattering act of terrorism this nation has ever seen, and rightfully so. But because there are so many posts and thoughts going around, I decided that writing another blog wouldn’t do anyone any good unless I really brought some new ideas to the table. So all day I had no intentions of writing anything on this subject…until I watched this video. I have had a very busy day and I just had 15 minutes to myself, so naturally I got enthralled in this 30 minute video and had some ideas. There probably won’t even be a ton of people who read this since it’s nighttime on a Thursday, but I wanted to get these thoughts out of my head and onto paper (computer screen). So here are some less than generic things to think about on this solemn anniversary.
Disclaimer: Don’t get upset because I am leaving the most important parts out. I completely agree with most of the things that everyone talks about when this subject comes up: heroism, cowardice of terrorists, pride in one’s country. I’m just bringing to light some of the little things that I think deserve more recognition.
Many scientists, philosophers and/or theorists say that humans as a species have either partially or entirely lost their basic animalistic instincts. The argument being that rational thought has taken over all instinctual impulses for survival and reproduction. I could not disagree more. Just because people aren’t “mating” in broad daylight and some people can’t start a fire on their own does not mean our instincts are lost. Humans have not lost their instincts, the instincts have evolved along with the species itself. The difference between humans now and cavemen is that rational thought in modern time is infinitely more effective in, on an extremely basic level, survival and reproduction than natural instinct is. Sucks for the cavemen but they didn’t have that. So how does this relate to 9/11? Before I really thought about it, I kind of agreed with these ideas of contemporary theorists that human instinct is extinct (see what I did there?). That was also before I watched this video and really thought about what was going on in the video and all over NYC 13 years ago today. Obviously I have seen numerous videos and reports on ground level and about the heroes involved, I even saw the live coverage after school in 3rd grade. But after all these years, this is the first time I saw it. I saw human instinct in its most primal form. Right there, clear as day in the eyes of all the firefighters, policemen, government agents and random individuals alike. Nothing but an intrinsic combination of pure instinct, adrenaline, and human compassion in every one of them. Like the fireman at 9:20, for example. Where are you going? I heard there’s a firefighter trapped under a ton of rubble that is impossible to lift, so I’m gonna go lift it and get him out. Literally nothing else on his mind but saving the life of someone else. If you asked him his name he probably wouldn’t have been able to tell you because he was so focused on what needed to be done. That’s instinct. Heroes act on instinct when it is needed and rational thought is thrown out the window.
Which brings me to my next point. There were thousands of heroes that day and no amount of thanks ever comes close to doing it justice. Unfortunately, there were many more people who were perfectly in place to make an impact and try to save lives; be a hero. Instead, their human instinct failed to reached the surface and was trumped by their own thoughts and priorities. What brought this to mind was the person behind the camera. Just like the guy, the hero, at 16:15 from right down the street Randolph, MA. He woke up that normal morning and did his normal job just like everyone else, until life, fate, whatever you want to call it, needed him to do something else. He carried a person in a wheelchair down 68 floors! That’s insane! And the guy didn’t even think twice about it. But here is the problem that comes to my mind. The camera guy woke up that normal morning, and went to his normal job just like everyone else, until this curveball to end all figurative curveballs went right through his wheelhouse. And instead of “I need to help these people on ground zero,” a different prerogative dictated his role in history. “I need to film this.” Even though it is great to have eyes on what happened at ground zero and it is nice to see what went on, imagine if instead of every cameraman in NYC, there was another set of hands to help save some lives. It’s not like it would have been any more dangerous than what they were doing. They already risked their lives for the footage they got, but they could have at least put down the camera and helped a stretcher wheel through the rubble. I believe if, at the risk of losing all ground level footage on 9/11, they saved just one more life, it would have been worth it.
So there’s a couple more things to think about when you repent on 9/11. If your cultural horizons were brightened a little bit, give this a share and hopefully someone else’s will be too.
There is no form of culture more pure than that of the instinct that comes from inside you when it’s needed the most.