Thursday, February 18, 2010

Anger Smells of Ash

I live in Northwest Austin, Texas. I am a mom and work far away from my neighborhood although my children (naturally) attend an elementary school that is very close to my home. It is probably not necessary for me to tell you how frightened and out of control I felt when I realized that a plane had crashed into a building a few minutes away from where my husband works and my children attend school. As a matter of fact, I expended an enormous amount of emotional energy today simply trying to talk myself out of how I was feeling.

After all, I knew that not only was my family ok, but (miraculously) most of the people in the building were also ok.

My logical self-talk, however, failed to make much of a dent in how I felt. The best I can say about it is that it helped me retain a calm outer demeanor. For the most part.

By the time I drove home this evening, I'd seen pictures of the wrecked building on CNN. That was odd enough since I pass this building practically every single day. As a matter of fact, it's so close to my house that I've often thought how great it would be if I could find a JOB in that building so that my commute would be easier. Once it hit about 4:00 this afternoon - I started to wonder how I'd go home. Would I drive my normal path, which would take me right by the building?

I decided, once again, to attempt a logical approach. I watched the traffic reports. Truthfully - I figured that traffic would be horrible and I'd be forced to figure out an alternate route home. But - it wasn't. I kept waiting for MoPac to crowd but it was one of the easiest, smoothest commutes I've ever attempted. As I made my way to the top of the MoPac/183 flyover, my breath caught in my throat and I crossed myself as I saw the destruction on one side of the road and the countless, countless news vans on the other side of the road. Traffic was crawling for those few minutes (as I'm sure everyone was probably trying to process the fact that a national news event happened right around the corner from our homes) and I documented the view from my car.

The picture of the building is much less clear than what I'd seen on CNN, but what I hadn't seen were the rows and rows of news vans. And I obviously hadn't been able to smell the burning until I was on the overpass.

It was the smell that caught me off guard. My windows were rolled up, but the scent of ash felt like an assault on my nose and I was grateful that I was moments from making it home and seeing my children.

The ash and destruction were there only because a man was angry. I will give him the benefit of the doubt that  he accurately stated all of his grievances. I don't question the fact that people and organizations can be cruel, unfair, and heartless. I've seen it myself. Most adults have.

Perhaps I'll write more about this later, and perhaps I won't. I am called, however, to disagree vehemently with those who would glorify this act.

It is the rare person who will make it through life without suffering cruelty at the hands of another. Anyone who feels particularly victimized or put upon should, perhaps, take the time to consider the plight of children who are so abused or neglected that we can hardly bear to read their stories, or the plight of parents in Haiti who see their children starve before their eyes and would consider giving their children away to strangers in hopes that they might have a slim chance of escaping agony. Or, if one is feeling particularly religious, one could even consider the plight faced by countless true spiritual martyrs (not false ones) and prophets as they were maligned then killed for their messages.

Truly... Can anyone even compare his or her life with the atrocities others have faced? No. Don't even try to pretend that such a comparison can be made. I understand anger. I understand the feeling of helplessness and even powerlessness. I understand the torture of betrayal. But I refuse to understand how anyone can see another human being as nothing more than a political symbol. For anyone who glorifies this act, would you feel that way if your own child had been in the building today? Would you consider him a hero if your spouse worked nearby and didn't answer your repeated calls?

Perhaps there is no internet in the afterlife, but in case there is - I have this message for him: Because of your hatred - I drove through the smell of your attack so that I could hold my children, who were minutes away from your final insanity. If you had harmed my children, I can't even imagine how much I would want to hurt you. As it is, I find myself praying that I never allow my anger or sense of justice to cloud the fact that we are all God's children. Even you.

I choose to remain human. No one will ever make me into such a victim that I create new victims just so I will feel powerful.

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