Death, Disaster, and the American Psyche
Ten days from today, a majority of Americans will be remembering the horrific events of September 11, 2001. Media outlets will recap the events of the day in words and pictures; some might even provide a "where are they now?" segment to catch up with the people who survived.
I wonder how healthy this is for American society. I understand how people who experienced loss first hand might continue to mourn on Sept. 11. I have a friend who was talking on the phone to someone in the Twin Towers when the conversation suddenly ended; her friend didn't survive. I understand why my friend gets unhappy around this time every year. I even understand why most people in New York City might continue to mourn, considering the magnitude of the event.
But the rest of the country doesn't need to reopen the wounds every Sept. 11. Or on December 7 - Pearl Harbor Day.
American society seems to focus on disasters that end in death, celebrating these horrible events and creating holidays dedicated to them. Have you ever considered that Memorial Day celebrates all of the men and women who died protecting our country? Why don't we have a federal holiday to celebrate all of the people who are currently protecting our country?
On individual levels, people track the day that someone dies for more reasons that just genealogy. Some people can them "angel dates", or the day that someone they loved became an angel. They hold memorial services annually, feel depressed and angry during that time of year, and talk about what would have theoretically happened if that person was still alive.
Why do we both as a society and as individuals cling to death, hold it near and dear?
I don't have an answer to this question, but I do wonder this time of year if we can learn to let go and focus on the future. Learn to not let the past poison the present.
Anyone have any ideas?