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Ben Franklin's bifocals Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry
[1813 - Battle of Lake Erie, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry defeats British squadron]

Director Robert Wise at work
[1914 - Robert Wise, Academy Award-winning director, born in Winchester, Indiana]

Film Actor Edmund O'Brien
[1915 - Edmond O'Brien, Academy Award-winning actor, born in New York City]

Journalist & Writer Charles Kuralt
[1934 - Charles Kuralt, journalist, born in Wilmington, North Carolina]

HoF Defensive Tackle Buck Buchanan
[1940 - Buck (Junious) Buchanan, Pro Football Hall of Famer, born in Gainesville, Alabama]

Gunsmoke original cast
[1955 - Gunsmoke debuts on TV, begins 20-year series run]

The Lesson of September 11

On the eve of a grim anniversary we scramble to find the lesson of September 11. Our leaders make speeches that are thinly disguised attempts to exploit the memory of the event for political gain. The preachers discover a religious message in the ruins of the disaster. The rest of us just struggle with the attempt to make sense of it all.

In the wreckage of the twin Towers, in the wounded Pentagon, and in a charred field in Pennsylvania, we search for meaning. We seek an explanation. We hope for a lesson. None of the speeches, or prayers, or public ceremonies provide what we are looking for. The answer is simple. What we are looking for is not there. There is no lesson in 9/11.

There is no lesson in 9/11 just as there is no lesson in the Holocaust. These events, and the ones like them, are just that; events. They serve to illustrate the truth that human nature is virtually unchanged throughout the brief history of our race. We are now, we will be for some time, and we always have been capable of the most extreme cruelty to our own kind. This should come as no surprise. We are a race of survivors. Those among us who could not survive did not survive. Survival is their legacy.

Yet there is hope in the recognition of simple truths. Surely, the human capacity for good and kindness is no less than the human capacity for evil and cruelty. These are but different manifestations of the same primordial energy that lies within each of us. When that energy vibrates in one set of dimensions it produces all that we reckon as worthwhile in the human spirit; when the vibrations occur in the alternative set we have 9/11.

If only we could turn our attention from the war of revenge against those who committed 9/11, and anyone who looks or prays like them, we truly might learn something. If instead of limiting personal liberty, building walls around the country, spying or ratting on each other, and attempting to secure our transportation systems by confiscating hair gel, we returned to our core strengths as a nation, we would defeat the thugs who committed this crime.

William's Whimsical Words:

As long as we insist on trying to make this country look like it was run by the Taliban, Al Qaida, and Osama bin Laden, we have no chance.

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