By Daniel Perin
In the ten years since the terrible, senseless attack on the World Trade Center in New York I have become weary of the repeated stories of loss, revenge, hatred and victim-hood that seems to never end. Somehow since the Oklahoma City bombing of the Federal Building and the effort to salve the heartbreak and sense of personal loss, we decided that the families of those who lost their lives in these tragic events deserved compensation from their government. Certainly, their loss is unfortunate. It is personally devastating in every way imaginable. I get that. I support doing whatever we can as a society to help mend the broken lives and irreversible loss these families have experienced.
That being said, I admit that I have become disheartened by the actions of some who have pressed for “damages” as though it was the government’s fault that they lost a loved one. Our government offered what amounted to a generous “life insurance” payout and gave assistance in many other ways. For the most part this was what needed to be done, even though no assistance or amount of money could replace the loss these folks experienced. Some who chose not to accept the government assistance because they felt they might do better in the courts have left me appalled. It was, in my opinion, another example of, “Somebody owes me for this loss,” kind of attitude that has weakened the fabric of our society.
On the other hand, I recognize that the government has been slow, if not essentially halted all together when it comes to taking care of the long term consequences of damage to the health and well being of rescue workers due to struggling in the dust and grit of the Trade Center debris for days and weeks.
Somewhere there has to be a middle ground of common sense, personal responsibility and government responsibility when it comes to what is done to recover from such horrible events. Some may see no difference here between natural disasters like tornadoes and hurricanes and the acts of war. Perhaps there is no difference, but for me there is. I am sure I have come to this feeling because I see some taking advantage of the disaster to get someone to pay for their loss. I know it is too simplistic to advise people to “just get insurance.” Insurance doesn’t cover acts of war or weather disasters unless expensive special coverage is acquired.
Finally, let me share something that caused me to wonder about all of these questions and my personal feelings. I just read the special issue of Time Magazine on “Beyond 9/11.” The reports brought tears to my eyes again, just as the event did in 2001. I do feel for the many whose losses are tragic. The sense of desolation, fear and anger is still palpable for many of us. And though I have experienced burnout about 9/11, I do, in fact, join the survivors in their efforts to reconcile, each in his/her own way, the loss they have experienced. I pray for them and for us all so we can get beyond the fear and anger and open our hearts and minds to a future that is secure and fulfilling in new and wonderful ways.