Writing on 9/11 is always strange; a shadow lurks around every mental corner, and words seem to lack the needed gravity. We live our normal days wrapped in the familiar and the comforting, forgetting that civilization is a thin veneer, that barbarism is not far back in our past or far away in our present. But on a day like this, we can’t help but confront our own and our world’s profound vulnerability. It’s a day to feel small, as history overwhelms us with its awful sweep — one unbearable morning frozen in a dense web of action and reaction dating back centuries and stretching forward until…well, others will get to tell that story.
What to do? Roll up in a ball and moan? Or get up and do something instead — let’s pick that. Let’s make 9/11 a day to Get Things Done, henceforth and for all our time. “The fate of this man or that man” may be “less than a drop, although it was a sparkling one, in the great blue motion of the sunlit sea,”* but even a tiny drop can make a splash.
*T.H. White, The Once and Future King.