Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembrance & Resolve

Eleven years ago today, my world - along with the worlds of many - changed forever. And as strange as it is to say, I think we need to be sure to pause and remember. I realized that need existed when it struck me that many of my students were in elementary school when the events of 9/11 unfolded.  I was a full-grown adult and I couldn't fathom what my eyes were taking in - and I have days in which that is still true.

Readers of this blog know the great admiration I have for Father Mychal Judge - I've written about his life on the last two 9/11 anniversaries (here and here) and I encourage you to learn a bit more about this incredible man who rode with "his boys" to the fiery Towers and whose name adorns the first death certificate issued for that terrible, terrible event.

For some things, there is no logic, there is no reason. Seeking one will drive you around the bend.  So what do we do? How do we go on in a world which can seem to be driven by madness and chaos?

We stand. And we stand tall.

J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5) considered the cosmic questions raised by the horrors that we now call "9/11" and he, along with the artists John Romita Jr. and Scott Hanna, issued his answers in an unusual format.  At the time, Straczynski was writing The Amazing Spider-Man. It makes sense - Spidey is a hero closely associated with New York City; he always has called the Big Apple his home.  But how could a comic - a child's plaything - make sense of or find order in the midst of Hell?


I've included only a few panels here - you really should find the story for yourself.  I'll freely admit to tearing up as I read it and I can be a hard case sometimes.  Go seek it out - it's The Amazing Spider-Man, issue #36. You can find it in the trade paperback "Revelations" for about ten bucks.

It's so worth it.

Spidey arrives at the Twin Towers.

"Only madmen could contain the thought, execute the act, fly the planes.  The sane world will always be vulnerable to madmen, because we cannot go where they go to conceive of such things."

"Whatever our history, whatever the root of our surnames, we remain a good and decent people, and we do not bow down and we do not give up.  The fire of the human spirit cannot be quenched by bomb blasts or body counts.  Cannot be intimidated forever into silence or drowned by tears. We have endured worse before; we will bear this burden and all that come hereafter, because that's what ordinary men and women do. No matter what. This has not weakened us. It has only made us stronger."

"We stand blinded by the light of your unbroken will. Before that light, no darkness can prevail. They knocked down two tall towers. In their memory, draft a covenant with your conscience, that we will create a world in which such things need not occur. A world which will not require apologies to children, but also a world whose roads are not paved with the husks of their inalienable rights. They knocked down two tall towers. Graft now their echo onto your spine. Become girders and glass, stone and steel, so that when the world sees YOU, it sees THEM. And stand tall. Stand tall."

On this day of somber remembrance, be at peace. Heroes walk among us. And they don't wear Spandex tights or masks.

Resolve to be worthy of them.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Labor Day Weekend

Well, the Road to Hell has another paving stone, as I meant to post all last week.  However, the fall semester is just now getting into full swing - classes started two weeks ago, but my online just went live Thursday - so it's been a wee bit busy around the Nest.  And now it's the long Labor Day weekend!

I enjoy Labor Day, but I think it deserves to be more than the last day you can wear white without guilt.  Begun back in 1882, Labor Day is supposed to be a day to commemorate "the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being" of the United States.  Seriously, it's without a doubt the most "commie" holiday we have and most people don't even know it.  You should probably wear red instead of white, if you know what I mean.

Labor, especially union labor, gets a bad rap these days and I, for one, think it's about time to knock that off.   In the interest of full disclosure, I should reveal that I live in the least unionized state in America (that's according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012).  I do not belong to a union; in fact, state law prohibits public employees from unionizing in my state - see NCGS Section 95-98.  However, I realize the benefits I reap that have come from union activity.  Unions brought us the five day work week, the 40 hour work week, safety regulations, an end to child labor, workers' compensation, and a host of other improvements to the workplace that we take for granted these days.  I mean, you didn't really think the robber barons of the 19th century and the titans of the Industrial Age just woke up one morning and said, "You know, the words of Charles Dickens really got to me.  No more five-year-olds working the looms and the mines!"  Nope, improvements in society come because enough people band together and demand change.

That's the lesson of Labor Day.  Beware those who try to sell you snake oil labelled "trust those in charge to do the right thing" when profits are threatened.  Stand strong and stand together.  Labor is not the enemy.

So go enjoy your cookout - I know I will - and let me suggest the following to add to your playlist and movie queue for this weekend:

10 Songs that Still Power Social Change

Movies about the Working (Wo)Man - ever think about Alien as a Labor Day movie?  It works when you think about why that crew is off in the middle of nowhere.