Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Eulogy for the America We Knew

I do not want to write about 9/11 at all. I remember it too well, as nearly every American does. So, why add my voice to so many others? What is it that I'm being compelled to put into words, and why can I not not think about it?

In my bio, I have an axiom: "You must always tell the truth of it." That includes the responsibility to speak when it's important. The path of the Bard in ancient times (which I aspire to) sometimes requires you to collect the thoughts and feelings of the rest of the clan or tribe, and speak them in such a way that that group energy & feeling is brought together. That brings the people themselves together, and is one of the crucial elements of community. I've done this before; at a number of memorial services that I've attended, they invite people attending to come up and say something about the departed. Many have something that they'd like to express, but most people don't like speaking in front of a group at any time, let alone at that time. So, usually, nobody will get up and actually do it.

But I will. Not because I think I'm a gift to the world's ear and want the attention for myself. That would be crude, crass and without respect. I do it because I can feel the energy around me, coming from the other people, and words shape in my mind around them. It's very hard to explain. But, once that's given to me, I'm not allowed to hold onto it; the feelings are theirs, and I have to give them back. At those times, my complete lack of fear of being in front of a group of people is put to use for more than the reach for Truth in art. It's an honor and a privilege to be in the service of Truth, and it's the same to be allowed to attempt to bring that energy together into something that lets people breathe out and say "Yes, that's it. I wanted to say something, but I didn't have the words."

It's also an opportunity, at a time when emotions are highly charged (on whatever the occasion) to tap into them and use them to foster community. "Community" in all the definitions of that word at once. Today, it was that which coalesced in my mind. Therefore, this is not an essay eulogizing the America we knew at the dawn of September 11, 2001.

It's to eulogize the America we knew at the dawn of September 12, 2001. It, too, is gone.

I will take the unusual step (for me) of posting this before it's finished. At the moment, I'm still reaching for those words, trying to find the core of it, and to only use as many words as are needed. As an Irish-American, I'm not, by nature, always so concerned with economy of words (evidence abounds). However, this being an "official speech", the rules are different. For now, I can tell you that there are more questions than answers, and I cannot lie and claim that there are definite answers, answers with which we can try to smooth over and hide our responsibility to ask questions.

That's right, the responsibility to ask questions, and where there are no good answers, to be a part of creating them.

The question that I will leave with you for now to ponder is:

What IS the United States of America?

Consider this as well: Everyone knows "we're at war"; but what is it, who is it that we're at war with? It shouldn't be with ourselves, with one another, fellow Americans; when Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, the words with which he closed, I am sure, he fervently hoped that no one would ever be called on to say in the country's future:

"That the government of the People, by the People, and for the People, shall not perish from this Earth."

Therefore, it's time to sound a clarion call. Before we go so far that we'll not be able to hear it over the sound of waging war, and HATE, against each other and even more of the rest of the world.

If the sound of those words disturbs you, good; that means that I am reaching towards the gathering of what's unspoken among us, and needs to be said.

I shall continue as soon as the words are right.

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