“Names lifted from a hat
Or balanced on the tip of the tongue.
Names wheeled into the dim warehouse of memory.
So many names, there is barely room on the walls of the heart.”
~ Billy Collins, “The Names”
Today is a good day for the industry of information. As it is the 11th anniversary of September 11, 2001, everyone wants to get in on the action. The talking heads, the politicians, the Facebook trolls, even t-shirt and bumper sticker and meme makers — political capital and quick money is on everyone’s mind. I don’t even know how many thousands of articles and essays begin with “as it is the 11th year anniversary,” or how many million product items mention 9/11 or “Never forget.” Which is funny — no one seems to be forgetting and no one seems to need a reminder. It’s on everyone’s mind and yet we all want to re-post articles, wear some anti-terrorist swag, or email each other inspirational messages just to prove to each other that we remember more than they do. That our electronic chain letters make us all that more patriotic. Or to take time to once again stir up controversy with our belief that it’s all a hoax.
Whatever our meanings or intentions, whatever side we took on September 12, 2001 and whatever side we take now — I think we’re all safely categorized as Americans and we all — despite what any conservative essayist might claim that a liberal anthropologist or sociologist might want to say — have some common values and basic human goodness. That’s not to say anything about a macro-ethical view of human beings or enter into a philosophy of ethics debate. I stand confidently on my experience of humanity with the idea that we can understand each other, relate to each other, and can communicate our thoughts and feelings to each other. And that, when we do so patiently and thoughtfully, we can find that we don’t stand that far apart.
[Continue reading at Eugene Daily News.]