I’m seeing all these cartoons and celebrations about how 9/11 “still hurts” and it’s gotten me to thinking. Unlike most of the world, the continental US hasn’t had anything in the way of war since 1865. War was something that Americans “went off to.” It was an away event, never a home game. Nothing more than another sport, just with tanks and guns. And so it was “fun,” it was “glorious” it was filled with honor and manliness and made Americans – generally ones who’d never BEEN there – feel all good about themselves. Sure, vets came home with scars, internal and external, but they could be ignored, or shuffled off to the VA hospital system. And when they lost an away game, the nation reacted like any other losing team’s supporters – finding blame all around, eventually vowing to retrain and do better, and finally, after kicking come minor league butt, getting all cheerful again.
But now war has come home. Suddenly it’s not as fun and glorious as it used to be when the bombs were being dropped on somebody else. It’s not a sport any more. Oh, Americans have sort of gotten their warm fuzzies back by “killing terrorists” but it’s just not the same. The joy has gone out. I’m trying to imagine a German or Japanese resident in 1955 still navel gazing about the far greater loss of civilian life than Modern Americans can ever comprehend with their Public School Educations. And both were too busy rebuilding to spend a lot of time crying and whining about how unfair it had all been, just as most victims of war have over the centuries.
And that is the crux of it. The 9/11 crime was actually a blessing in disguise for Americans, though they will refuse to admit it. America spent the last part of the 20th century changing, culturally, from a nation that admired the strength of the individual to one that worshiped the cult of the victim. Americans looked for ways to become victims, because victims were loved, showered with attention, and were to be “taken care of.” Victimhood was a status to be obtained, because then you Would Be Heard, rather than a pitiable state to be left as quickly as possible. Victimhood came with financial rewards, and psychic ones as well, as victims were cuddled and nurtured and taken care of and showered with sympathy and attention – all theoretically desirable to the typical cube dweller whose life was fraught with unmeaning. Victimhood also gave a rising class of professional caregivers something to do with their degrees in psychology and sociology and womyn’s studies, again something that was more meaningful than asking, “Do you want fries with that?” The crime of 9/11 was actually a blessing to Americans, because it has now given every man, woman, and child the opportunity to achieve “victim” status, and to demand that they be “cared about” in their victimhood.
So it is no wonder that the wound hasn’t healed – Americans keep picking at the scab, keeping it open. They crave the attention and the sympathy. Instead of getting on with life, Americans are working to continue to wallow in their victimhood, sobbing “poor poor pitiful me” to the rest of the world, half of which rolls its eyes and a lot of the rest is being turned into the next generation of people who’ll be trying their best to give Americans something more to cry about. It is time for Americans to pull up their big boy pants, look to the future instead of the past, and give some serious thought to acting, for once, like actual adults rather than spoiled adolescent brats forever whining about how horrible the world is. Maybe a refocusing on building, rather than destroying, and a recognition that killing lots of other people is not just something to make for interesting nightly news but that does actual injury, would be just the thing to turn that wound into a scar that then goes the route of most national scars.
In the adult nations, anyway. Victims … see things differently.