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Ann Cannon: We can't let resentment over 9/11 poison us

Published September 10, 2011 7:09 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Whenever I drop off one of our kids at the airport, I always say, "Flying didn't used to be like this."

You didn't have to arrive for your flight a month in advance.

You didn't have to stand in long lines, waiting for TSA agents to give you the hairy eyeball.

You didn't have to take off your shoes and your belts.

You didn't have to empty your pockets or divest yourself of jewelry.

You didn't have to put your bottled liquids in little plastic bags.

You didn't have to pull your laptop out of your suitcase and put it in a bin.

You didn't have to walk through a scanner and fight back the urge to shout BEAM ME UP, SCOTTY.

You didn't have to leave the people who came to say good-bye on the other side of that scanner.

No. Those people could actually accompany you to the departure gate back in the day. And if you were going away for a long, long time, those people might even bring treats — homemade oatmeal cookies, for example — and you could all sit around together, laughing and talking and eating oatmeal cookies while you waited for your flight. And after you boarded, your people could stand there at the window and wave as they watched that jet taxi, lift off and whisk you away into low-hanging clouds.

But not anymore.

The events of Sept. 11, 2001, put an end to that for good. And I resent it.

My resentment doesn't stop at the airline check-in curb. Oh no. There's more.

I resent the length and the costs of the wars we've entered since 9/11, although I deeply honor the service and sacrifice of family members, friends and others who've been deployed over the past 10 years.

I resent the way certain political and media figures on both the right and the left have exploited our national unease for their own purposes.

I resent that their cynical fear-mongering has caused Americans to become testier and meaner with each other.

I remember with brittle clarity the evening of Sept. 11, 2001. I fixed dinner for our kids, as always. I helped them with their homework, as always. I cleaned up the kitchen and let out the dogs and called my husband at work, as always.

Then I stood alone on our back porch, gazed up at a jet-less silent sky and thought, "Everything has changed."

It would be wrong to say that our nation lost its innocence on 9/11. I'm old enough to remember the '60s and Vietnam, and believe me that was NOT an innocent era. My uncles who fought in World War II could make the same claim about their experiences in the European theater.

Still, I think it's fair to say that we all lost something 10 years ago when the Twin Towers collapsed into ash.

And I resent that undefined loss, too.

Like everybody else, I've been revisiting old territory and feeling the rawness of that day again, so the words of Nelson Mandela strike me with a special force right now: "Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies."

He's right, of course. Resentment strangles. And so my plan for this 10th anniversary is simply this: to think on the grace and goodness that we as a nation showed then and that we can choose to show always.

Ann Cannon can be reached at acannon@sltrib.com or facebook.com/columnistcannon.






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