Days of Change

Day 1042 – Confusion

September 12, 2011
1 Comment

The World Trade Center Flag

One thing we all have a decade after 9/11 is historical perspective. We know about Osama bin Laden and his megalomania. We know about 19 hijackers and how less than half of their planned attack succeeded. We know Saddam Hussein didn’t have an underground bunker of nukes. We know bin Laden was living in Pakistan for a long time, watching himself on satellite TV. We know that was the last attack of any consequence on us, but learned of other devastating attacks after 9.11. We know about the anthrax scare and the likely culprit who committed suicide.

We didn’t know most of this stuff on 9/11. We didn’t learn some of it for years after. What we had for hours and even days later was confusion. Sometimes we get asked or volunteer what we remember from that day. It’s easy for many of us to remember the facts or the sights and sounds burned into our memories. We remember the anger, whether it be at the terrorists or at the government’s response. We may not remember the confusion so much.

Confusion is a tough state of mind. It’s a kind of sensory overload as you try to process every little bit of information. Not only did we have few answers, we were all desperately trying to put together a rationale. While that day impacted the victims and eyewitnesses most directly, we were all equally confused.

Confused and helpless gave way to angry and scared pretty early on. Then there were the anthrax letters shortly after. There was more confusion. These kinds of attacks are usually designed to spread confusion. Being angry or scared will make you act. Being confused can halt a person.

There was a very human reaction to the attack. We went to war on terror itself. We picked targets with guns blazing and nukes at the ready. Opponents were just trying to confuse the issue. This lasted for years until the confusion over a city being destroyed by water took over.

I can’t argue with the rightness or wrongness of people’s impressions of September 11th. Neither can they. Hindsight is 20/20. We can remember how it felt that day, but it’s what we do about it the next day that means something.

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