Change happens, for some of us
I swear, it was really, really good.
It was just my luck, too, that after almost three years of never missing a Tuesday Commentary I finally got one right, but those damn terrorists had to come and rain on my personal parade.
Poor, self-deprecating Richard.
All pity aside, part of my so-called job is to observe and then comment, so here are a few of my astute observations of changes in Happy Valley over the last year (in human terms, of course):
While some have become more compassionate toward fellow man, others have become even more cynical and downright mean-spirited. This is a natural reaction to a man-made act of terror – some learn, some refuse to.
Financial situations have deteriorated for many. I’m aware of some that are now saving money in a mattress instead of a bank, and while that is certainly their conservative prerogative, I’m more impressed with those who now care less about acquiring that new SUV or the bigger house with more closet space and a better view.
Priorities have shifted for a lot of folks, and most in a positive direction.
Many of us still replay the mental video in our head at least once a week or so of the towers as they fell, cringing with that familiar pain in the stomach as the buildings implode while billowing smoke replaces the air space formally held by thousands of living human beings.
I know some who have brief moments of hesitation before stepping into a train, plane or high-rise, and others who dang near leap for the opportunity in order to constantly prove a point to themselves.
I suppose each of us handles the scenario in whichever way makes us more comfortable.
Some of my friends now own weaponry when they used to enjoy shredding NRA junk mail, while others have installed home security systems and agree carte blanche with almost anything proposed by J. Edgar McCarthy-Ashcroft.
I’m on the fence with this one, but I know a few that will vote differently this November based almost solely upon a candidate’s position toward homeland security, even at the Town Council level.
Not long-term thinkers, if you ask me.
Basic civil liberties: Family safety is now more important than freedom of speech or even religion to some, while groups like PETA and the ACLU seem to care more about a puppy being gassed on videotape than they did about Americans being vaporized live.
I have a friend who spends hours searching the Internet for new ways for terrorists to attack us. She (yes, she) is extremely paranoid, to say the least. Buy hey, if that’s what she needs to handle it internally, then power to her. Personally, I do not think my odds have increased from last Sept. 10 of contracting anthrax or a plane I’m riding in being hijacked.
Most of us look at Arabs differently, whether we admit it or not, and now know more about Muslims and their religion than we ever thought we would, or in most cases, than we ever cared to.
Children: Most of us are even more protective than ever. At times it seems like the perverts are coming out of the woodwork. Used to be they just stayed in the closet.
Some think the United States has become predatory global thugs intent on telling the rest of the world how to think and act. Others think this entire episode was a wake-up call for America alone.
I’m still unsure if the call is being answered or not.
Some will spend tomorrow in a media-induced stupor, wrapped tightly in a blanket of mixed emotions and confusing priorities. I hope most of us choose the quiet dignity of silent remembrance, combined with the internal determination of knowing that life goes on, regardless.
So many negative feelings have been twisted into ugly ideals that, yes, some of us have changed for the worse. Yet I prefer to look at it as an involuntary cultural shift, just one of a never-ending list of many that the world endures on an irregular basis.
With life being as short as it already is, there is nothing wrong with spending a few more hours each week enjoying the simple pleasures of life. While admiring those convinced they are, not each of us was created to concentrate solely on saving the world 24/7.
With that in mind, my wife and I spend more time now with our three boys. We ski, hike, camp, play basketball, go to movies and sit around playing board games when we used to concentrate more on individual activities. (It helps if the electricity has gone out for a while.)
Let’s all keep smiling a bit more. Say “hi” or at least wave to your neighbors when walking down the street, and if the weather permits, do that walking barefoot. It will remind you of your childhood.
Watch a sunset at least once a week in total silence, while gently holding someone you love in one hand and gripping a homebrew in the other.
Be more tolerant when some jackass cuts you off in a roundabout. You’ll still reach your destination, only it will be a few seconds later. Chances are they’re from out of town anyway.
And let’s continue the rejuvenation of our nations proud foundation from Ground Zero up. America began with a people mentally stronger and more purposeful than perhaps we were a year ago. But today we are united and infinite in heart as a country – one looked up at from the rest of the civilized world.
Besides that, there’s a lot more of us now. It should be easier this time around.
Richard Carnes of Edwards can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org