Feeding the Wolf: Remembering 9/11

Remembrance

I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit.
 — John F. Kennedy

By: Eddie SantoPrieto

As we come to the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks which saw the senseless murders of thousands of innocent people, I can assure you, I will not be watching any of the commemorations. From my perspective, we have dishonored the memory of those perished on that day. We have trivialized and manipulated those murders for political and personal gain. And we have used it to kill more innocent people who had nothing to do with the tragic events that transpired that incongruously beautiful New City autumn’s day.

Most of us experienced the events that transpired at the World Trade Center vicariously through television.

I didn’t… I was there.

Since 1969, we lived the proverbial stone’s throw (a five minute walk, actually) from what is now called “Ground Zero.” When the towers collapsed, the tremors were felt in my building. I watched from the roof of my17-story building in horror as people jumped from the Towers.

I heard my neighbor’s hysterical scream as she stood next to me and watched those poor souls who chose to plunge to their death rather than burn. I saw, with my own eyes, that horror, something my mind refused to believe at first. I thought — I wanted so much to believe — those little dots were debris, but they were humans. And as my neighbor’s shriek’s intensified as the awareness dawned on her, I took her in my arms, but she was beside herself, as were others — the screams could be heard everywhere.

Realizing that staying in a high-rise was risky at best, we all evacuated the building and I walked in silence with the throng of humanity that marched through the streets of lower Manhattan, a mass shrouded in white ashes. The day was a beautifully clear early autumn day, the sun bright, as thousands walked in silence, ashen heads bowed.

I saw a woman walking aimlessly, muttering, obviously in shock, bleeding from a wound on her head. I saw another limping, whimpering to herself. I saw pieces of human beings mixed in with all those billions of bits of papers and files…

I lived, on and off, in the shadows of the towers all those years. I used to party every Friday there when I was a young man working in the Woolworth Building, almost across the street from the World Trade. When I was 14-15, I took a summer job as a messenger at a printing company where my uncle worked, and I would deliver blueprints to the architects at the World Trade site. I had just finished reading Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead and had developed an interest in architecture and Frank Lloyd Wright, and it was pretty cool to see the architectural monstrosity rise (let’s not get too nostalgic, The Towers were pretty much bland-looking).

I even had sex in the shadows of the Towers — a youthful impulse early one hot summer morning in the throes of a passionate summer’s love.

One day, on my way to work, I happened to look up and saw a man climbing up the outside of the Twin Towers. The New York tabloids proclaimed him “Spiderman” on the next day’s editions. There was always something weird or fun going on at the World Trade. In the 70s, a famous tightrope walker walked across a cable stretched between the two towers. There was a lot personal history there in those towers — at least for me, anyway. I also had many friends who worked there, at one time or another. What I remember most was that no matter how drunk or stoned I got, all I had to do to make it home was point myself in the direction of the Towers.

I had just started working at my most current job and on Tuesdays and Thursdays; I worked from 12-8 PM. At about 9-10 AM, cursing under my breath for forgetting to buy coffee, I went to the store to and noticed a group of neighbors staring up at the Towers. I looked up to see the back end of a small plane sticking out of one of the Towers. I really didn’t think much about it. Things always happened at the Towers.

As I was returning home from the bodega, I felt the second plane hit as I opened the door to my apartment. I felt it. That’s when I knew something was wrong. I won’t retell that tale, we all know it… we saw it replayed on the TV countless times (was it really necessary?)

From my 17th floor apartment I watched… then I watched from the roof, where some of my neighbors had congregated. And that’s where I witnessed the horror of the inferno, the eventual collapse of both Towers.

I saw thousands of people walking silently, heads bowed, covered in white ash. It was strange to see so many people in one place and feel that silence. One of the things I will never forget was how quiet it was in the midst of 100s of thousands of people. It just wasn’t right.

And then I saw something miraculous and wonderful to behold, the innate human impulse to come together in moments of crisis. Some people went out into the middle of some streets and acted as traffic controllers. No one told them to, they just did what had to be done. I saw people helping one another, stores giving away free water, others helping the wounded.

A priest and I helped some who were walking around in shock. We helped dress their wounds and reassure them. We set up a table with water bottles and started collecting those hurt the most so that they could be picked up by medical staff.

I witnessed, that day, the nobility of my fellow New Yorkers — my fellow human beings. Complete strangers giving comfort to one another, others rushing into the maws of the site to lend help, to assist, to just be helpful in even the smallest of ways. And many of my fellow New Yorkers were downright heroes that day, but what really got me, what will never leave me, was how this sea of compassion and care rose to meet the ugliness of death and destruction. I witnessed and was part of, an emergence of the human spirit that I have never felt before and will probably never see again. And I saw, as many of you did, the world unite with us in this spirit. I saw the true potential of the human spirit that day, even in the midst of all that carnage and ugliness

But it was what I saw immediately after that scared me. And as it turns out, I had every right to be fearful.

I saw the religious whackos and fear mongers come out in full force before the dust had even settled, handing out pamphlets proclaiming “the end of the world.” I saw people buy right into that. It was a scary time, and people were confused, easily swayed.

I saw pure, unadulterated hatred.

There was a story going around a few days after the attacks of September 11, 2001. An American Indian grandfather was speaking to his grandson about violence and cruelty in the world and how it comes about. He said it was as if two wolves were fighting in his heart. One wolf was vengeful and angry, the other understanding and kind. The young boy asked his grandfather which wolf would win the fight in his heart. The grandfather answered, “The one that wins will be the one I choose to feed.”

And this is our challenge in a nutshell. A challenge we have failed to answer skillfully, unfortunately. It is the challenge we face as individuals and as part of this world gone slightly mad. How can we draw upon our inner potential to see what helps and what harms, what escalates war and aggression, and suffering? With the precarious nature of the current times — a planet in financial chaos and the environment on the precipice, the time for sitting back has long gone. And though you might feel there’s nothing you can do, know that even the slightest gesture toward feeding the right wolf will help. Now, more than ever, you need to understand and act on this human potential for transformation.

For days after, there was a call for volunteers to escort Muslim women and children because they were being attacked. I saw a lot of anger and fear and I feared that forces who craved fear and vengeance would use that tragedy to exploit, to manipulate, to seek retribution, to kill. I witnessed a bellicose and washed up mayor Giuliani resuscitate his political career while literally standing on the charred bodies of the dead. He has since made millions from the events of 9/11. Never mind that it was due to his incompetence and hubris that he had chosen to place the emergency system in the World Trade (against the advice of his own experts) and hence during the worst attack on our shores, the greatest city of the world had no real central operating location. Never mind that 100s of firefighters perished because he refused to upgrade walkie-talkies, Giuliani would be rewarded for his lack of vision and leadership by being hailed the Man of the Year.

I saw an incompetent president his administration lead us to a meaningless war and to the shredding of the Constitution as we cheered, “We’re No 1! We’re No. 1” — all in the name of all those dear dead people, in the name of my fellow New Yorkers, all who stood bravely and came together when it was most needed. I saw our leaders take that nobility and turn it into a force for hatred and greed. Ten years later we like to say we’re “winning” the war on terror, but the fact is that we played right into their hands. It’s on record that terrorist leaders had intended to provoke us into countless little wars and in that way bleed us to death. Today, we’re closing down schools, firing teachers and firefighters, neglecting our crumbling infrastructure while we spend countless trillions and needlessly sacrifice the lives of our young. Like a huge inept elephant, we’re drowning in the quicksand of our own collective ignorance and we’re doing it while dishonoring all those who died that day.

I smelled, everyday, that strange disgusting odor emanating from the charred pile that was once the Towers. It had a strange odor — something like rotted meat mixed with something entirely unidentifiable. Against the pleas of my friends and family, I refused to leave my apartment. Every day I went to my home though my area had the look and feel of a demilitarized zone — with blockades and checkpoints — and it took me an extra hour to get home just to get through all the security. I refused to leave because in my own way, leaving my home was the same as giving in to the terror.

As a result, I was breathing the powdered debris on a daily basis and developed a cough, what some of us began to call the “downtown cough.” It was like a smoker’s cough except I didn’t smoke. My lungs have never been the same since that day. Through varying degrees of separation, everyone one in New York was connected somehow to a death in those towers and I heard the many stories, the sadness, the anger, the confusion…

We must never forget those who died that day, those ten years ago.

We must strive to feed the right wolf. To do otherwise, is to spit in the face of the human spirit that arose that day — that one sliver of light in the midst of all that ugliness that transpired — where we all came together as one. But we must also never forget that some used the events of that day to lead us into darkness. If we forget that, if we dishonor that, then all those people will have died for nothing. It comes to pass that we have been feeding the wrong wolf.

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

Labels: farce, history, honor, tragedy

19 Comments on “Feeding the Wolf: Remembering 9/11”

  1. I don’t care what the “official” story is, the towers were not brought down by airliners alone – the towers collapsed in their respective footprints, molten steel was seen oozing from the wreckage (note: jet fuel does not burn hot enough to melt steel) and the supposed collapse of WTC 7 (yes, a third structure collapsed that day – also, curiously, into its own footprint) occured a full half hour before the twin towers went down (which contradicts the “official” story that it was destroyed by falling debris from the towers): add it all up and the evidence screams conspiracy – at best the so-called “intellegance” agencies fucked up big time and initiated a huge cover-up to hide their incompetence and, at worst, orchastrated the events of 9/11 for the very *purpose* of whipping the U.S. population into a frenzy for war (personally, I lean towards the latter due to the employment of “false flag” operations in the past by the state).

    Of course, this version of events is too disturbing for the average person to even contemplate (them being brain-washed patriots and all – I swear patriotism is a mental illness…) – so most attempts to awaken the average person to the cynical manipulation of their fears and outright laughtering of everyday people to achieve this end fail: most people would rather believe the comforting lie than the disturbing truth – lies make people happy…

  2. Geeez, Azazel, we finally agree! LOL!

    Yes. The WAY the towers collapsed was so totally weird. there’s a lot “science” out there debunking the conspiracy theory angle, but I have to say that the way these things happened just doesn’t sit right with me.

  3. It is a wild-eyed terrorist gang
    They boardeth planes by four and three.
    “I am off to fly to hell,” they quoth
    “And who flieth now with me?”

    The planes fly off to slam into buildings;
    And murder most within:
    In flame and smoke the cry is raised
    In screams and pain and din.

    He ordered the invasion of Afghanistan,
    “Far across the sea,” quoth he.
    “There is an evildoer sitting in
    An evildoin’ country.

    “Bombs will fall and the tanks will roll
    The B52s will do their thing
    And in Kabul will sit quite soon
    An anointed newfound king. “

    The Karzai sat on his throne:
    As his country went to hell;
    But he said nothing, for he was
    Under UNOCAL’s magic spell.

    Meanwhile the Ship of War,
    Set sail with guns loaded up
    As the Captain sipped his booze
    From a fancy Spode teacup.

    One war was just not enough
    His advisers told him well
    This was the chance to send old enemies
    To rot and stink up hell.

    Closer and closer, every day
    Iraq to be blown up soon
    Those idiots who ask for peace
    Are wishing for the moon.

    They did for Saddam in three short weeks
    The WMDs could not be found
    But the focus now on was
    The oil beneath the ground.

    Meanwhile the dead-ender terrorist scum
    Right fearsome to behold
    Came swarming out to shoot and scoot
    And our hero began to scold.

    “Bring them on,” the Leader said
    From far behind the lines quoth he
    “Even if we have to massacre everyone
    We’ll make Iraq free.

    “ Free for Halliburton, of course I meant
    For Blackwater and all the rest
    You’d better obey your Uncle Sam
    ‘Cause he always knows what’s best.”

    The War At Home raged on hard
    With wiretap and colour code
    For you know the terrorist
    May live right in your abode.

    Why, the wild-eyed terror freak
    May be your husband, son
    In the Holy War on Terror
    You just can’t trust anyone.

    Terrorists here, and terrorists there
    And terrorists all around
    Expect a terrorist in every shadow
    Behind every unknown sound.

    Secret prisons in every land
    Rendition flights fast flew
    Jack Bauer the trainer-in-chief
    Of the brave righteous crew.

    And now the back-blast came, and it
    Was horrible and fierce
    It swept up the War on Terror
    Right out of this Universe.

    With Afghanistan once again
    Become a warlord land
    Poppies grew in every field and hollow
    Opium enough to beat the band.

    The Taliban came swarming back
    As liberators back they came
    The victory won for natural gas
    Was now a brand new game.

    Meanwhile Iraq in civil war
    Right swiftly fell to rust
    Ethnic cleansing and foreign troops
    Turned the nation to ruin and dust

    Now in place of victory, defeat
    It was all powerful strange
    Like the targets shooting back
    On the firing range.

    The economy began to fall
    A strange and terrible sight
    And in the marrow of the beast
    All the great men took fright.

    Meanwhile up came a hero
    A General proud was he
    Said he would surge the wars
    To certain victory.

    And too up came a Man of Peace
    A messiah to the deck
    Said he would salvage some kind of honour
    From the whole misbegotten wreck.

    So when a chance of peace
    It seemed that they could see
    They turned the ship the other way
    Towards the Manifest Destiny.

    The ship of war came sailing
    Into a harbour on the flood
    Swamped by death and terror
    By waves of hate and blood.

    Pile war on war and bomb on bomb
    You’re maybe, perhaps, sure to win
    Or at least you’ll end it all
    With what the French call

    FIN.

  4. Great story, Eddie, and I agree with both you and Az. It’s hardly an even worth honoring considering its long-term aftermath, and considering the highly suspect manner in which it happened.

    The documentaries I’ve seen on it provide solid logic as to why the event was suspicious. The “official statements” get by on such dogma as “This is the way it happened. These educated people say it. There’s no question. Anyone who suggests otherwise is stupid.”

    Right, but educated people can LIE! Anyway, like you, I don’t see 9/11 as a great day of patriotism, though the spirit of the city was admirable that day. I see the day the U.S. died in soul.

  5. Mitchell: that day could’ve been used in a number of ways and having been there, I saw both extremes, both wolves.

  6. Bill, you crack me up. Your comment could have made its own page in a poetry submission, but it does fit in appropriately with the article.

    Eddie, i so remember that fateful 9/11 day. My first reaction, like so many others, was absolute horror. Than, i felt a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as my thoughts told me, “we’re going to war”. My computer was fresh and new at the time, and i had joined a forum at our local newspaper. Sure enough, all that people were talking about was getting revenge for the bombing. One commentator stood out; a man i had often head-butted with in opposing opinions, but this time i was in complete agreement. He said taking on the Mideastern countries would result in endless war and our reward would be in body bags. He was so right.

    The third thing that occurred to me was, “how convenient that the main FBI headquarters was destroyed, and how odd that the buildings imploded.” This was before any conspiracy theories came out.

    I think it’s in times of stress that the real characteristics of human personalities come out. There are those who scream with hysteria, panic, accuse and want compensation for their pain and loss. There are others whose concentration is on pulling together, getting to their feet and finding constructive means to solve their dilemma. These pull together people are the real winners. They are the survivors of crisis and the process of rebuilding.

  7. @ Eddie,

    I guess that the one thing we have in common is the mistrust of the present order – where we part ways is in dealing with the beast (political action vs. preparation for paramilitary conflict with the police state, specifically).

  8. Thank you Eddie, not only for such a wonderful tribute to a city I lived in for only 6 months as a student, but loved dearly, but for speaking the truth.

    Thank you also for articulating something which has made my stomach churn for years: the hijacking of the dead for the purposes of a political agenda. I thought I was alone in thinking that rather than commemorate those who died, America has callously exploited them.

    There’s little dignity or compassion in that. New Yorkers deserve better. We all do.

    If the causes which promote terrorism would be eliminated, then we wouldn’t be left with having to attend to the symptoms.

    Unfortunately, our societies are still stuck with judgement and associated self-righteousness in order to dominate.

    There are no winners like that, only losers.

  9. Azazel: I fuck with you and sometimes unfairly goad you, but aside from the violence as a means, I DO respect your voice and your opinions. Shit, we prolly agree more than not on MANY important issues. for example, I’m no stranger to Bakuin, though I think you and I, as you noted, interpret anarchism differently.

    But anyway, I’ve been under the weather and going through a hard time lately, so thanks for the challenges (however wrong they are LOL!)

  10. Karlsie and Malice: I was shocked how easily some people I considered at least nominally liberal and educated were led by the nose after 9/11. And Karlsie, that was the stated purpose for the attacks, to goad us into feeding the wrong wolf and we did it without a thought.

    Today we’re dying the death of a thousand little cuts — all our precious resources wasted on never-ending war abroad, and unshared sacrifice at home.
    Whenever I see Guilliani, my stomach LITERALLY clenches. And Malice, you mention the most important factor almost no one mentions: addressing the disease (oppression) rather than the symptom (terrorist acts). To say this in the US today is almost treasonous — you could lose a job or a position if you ever dared even hint that our own foreign policies create the mess.

  11. So far I’ve watched two 9/11 shows – one by Sanjay Gupta on how 10 years later we needed advanced scientific studies to show a link between the WTC dust and rescue workers’ off the chart cases of cancer (duhhh) and another one on CNET talking about the how the technology failed then and what has been improved on over the 10 years – a much more interesting program without all the sappy bullshit and with some new information that I’ve not heard anywhere.

    That’ll probably be it for me – maybe the Fareed Zakaria interview of Rumsfeld – for LOLs.

    Also I love the commercial running now asking “what will you do on 9/11” – my answer is the same thing I did on 9/4: Watch some football, do some laundry and take out the garbage. Eff anniversaries. I don’t need pretty round number to remind me of the hell of that day or the subsequent 10 years.

  12. @ Eddie,

    While I confess that I find your brand of ideology to be a manifestation of a socio-political poison that has been spoon-fed to us for decades(don’t take my word for it – check out Ward Churhill’s “Pacifism as Pathology” for more details), I just want to say that I hold nothing against you personally and that you, in fact, remind me of some one I knew in another chapter of my life: I seriously would not mind sitting down for a drink with some one like you.

    All of our differences aside, I wish you luck (and if things go the way I think they will, you need it).

  13. Azazel: I don’t need to to read a book to understand that violence is the toll of cowards. I have witnessed and experienced more violence before I was 12-years-old than most human beings experience in a lifetime. I don’t say this to brag, it’s a simple statement of fact.

    Violence is the tool of ignorance, of religious and political fundamentalism and NEVER — throughout all of our shared history — has violence EVER accomplished a lasting, positive solution.

    some people will never understand this and will write books about “just wars” and books written on faulty understanding on non-violence. MOST of these people (such as your man Churchil) have probably never even been punched ion the nose, let alone know what it feels like to slip a knife between someone’s ribs, or the sound a body makes when it splatters on a sidewalk after a 5-story fall, or what it feels like to be in the path of a rampaging mob, or what it feels like to be run through a gauntlet after a prison riot.

    MOST people who advocate for violence almost never actually get their hands dirty because they are cowards. We can go on forever debating this, but this isn’t a classroom, it”s REAL LIFE.

  14. [Quote=Eddie]Violence is the tool of ignorance, of religious and political fundamentalism and NEVER — throughout all of our shared history — has violence EVER accomplished a lasting, positive solution.[/quote]

    This is our main point of contention – you claim that violence does not work, but the fact of the matter is that it does. Why do you think the state slaughters people (such as the 3,000 killed on 9/11), wages wars of imperialism and represses dissent? Because the tool is quite effective: killing the citizens via “false flags” creates fear the state can exploit, wars of imperialism bring wealth to those who wage them and most dissidents are terrified by the prospect of violent retribution.

    Conversely, the tool of violence can be used to counter the power of the state – engaging in clandestine ops to intimidate authorities weaken the will of the police state and guerilla campaigns can impede imperialist conquest as well of embolden dissent on the homefront (and I speak from experience on this, as well as the experience of my associates).

    Like I said before, I hold nothing against you personally but the ideology you hold is definitely the end result of poisoning of the collective psyche of modern man: the fact of the matter here is that the state entity is a psychopath willing to kill its own servants to fulfill its agenda – one cannot peacefully resist a psychopath as the only cure for that sickness lies within the grave…

  15. Using slaughter as a rationale for Violence is ridiculous. I stated that violence does not lead to POSITIVE lasting change. The topic of this post and history itself shows this to be true.

  16. Also, these tools, as you call it, actually kill more innocent people, mostly women and children, than the actual oppressors. Is that a consequence you’re comfortable with?because I’d you are, then the poisoned one here is you. Only a sociopath would advocate violence as a means to an end and then turn around and call nonviolence a poison. You know nothing, Azazel. I refuse to even entertain you on this. Yeah nonviolence is a poison and violence is god and yeah, ignorance is strength, and toxic waste is good for you.

  17. And we reach the impasse – the divide between the idealist and cynic.

    I’ll just ask you one question: if confronted by a brutal psychopath and you have a weapon at your disposal, do you try and bargain with the psychopath or use the weapon? If you pick option #1, you’re dead – pick option #2 and you’ve left the path of pacifism behind.

    The state is a psychopath (just tell me if any of these traits look familiar http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychopathy#Characteristics ) – it can’t be reasoned, bargained or negotiated with. The only way to deal with this thing is to kil it: say what you will about my methods being barbaric or what-not but they sure are a hell of a lot more effective than getting on my knees and begging this entity to give me some consideration at the rallies and polling booths: the only rational way to deal with entities that make irational demands of you is to destroy them – and there’s no peaceful way to accomplish this…

  18. Azazel, the biggest problem is that the state isn’t your common or garden psycho. The state is King Kong on steroids. It will crush you and your militia flat if you become obstreperous enough to get noticed. Otherwise it will just ignore you.

  19. @ Bill,

    In case you haven’t noticed, the state entity that calls itself the USA tends to preform poorly in protracted conflicts with irregular forces – their military doctrine revolves arond the use of superior firepower, but this is only useful if they can somehow trap a force of irregulars into a decisive battle (which is the antithesis of a guerrilla’s goals – he wants to avoid such engagements and kill his enemy with a thousand minor wounds).

    There are effective and ineffective means to use force against superior foes – if a guerrilla campaign is waged properly, even the proverbial King Kong on steroids will eventually bleed out and die…

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