13 September 2006

Thoughts On 11 September 2001

It's morning and I have a slight head cold. It's just bad enough to make me not want to do anything but, not so bad that I want to die. I have to go uptown today to pick up my paycheck, an act of futility because it's all been previously spent. All two weeks of it. This sucks. Rent. Bills. Paying back everyone I owe. The reason why I am so behind is because I lost my shift because of the holiday weekend, the bartending shift that I do on Sundays. This little shift usually gives me the extra cash I need to do the little things so I don't have to borrow money from friends and flatmates. You know, like jitney fare and food and stuff like that. I guess I shouldn't really complain. I put myself in this predicament and I will just have to live with it.
Why did I take this promotion?!?!

The 2,996 Project really affected me. I have avoided the whole anniversary thing for the last few years. It was such a horrendous memory, I didn't want to deal with it. I guess with it being five years, it made a difference. Five years since that day. That memorable day that changed everything about our country. Our lives. I remember sleeping. It had been what I call coma Monday and I was just catching up on my sleep, waking up on Tuesday morning and wondering what I was going to do with my days off. I remember thinking that the weather was spectacular and I was going to enjoy this day off. Then I began to become aware of what was on the television that I had left on from the night before. A plane hit the World Trade Center in Manhattan. Oh. That sucks. I watched for a bit, to see what was going on. Something like that doesn't happen all the time. Good Morning America was covering the incident. Then, the reports started coming in. You could tell there was confusion. A large plane hit the tower, not a small one. That's unusual. Then, I remember thinking, what's going on? I got up and went to the living room, my flatmate, Chunkie is up and watching. I began to discuss the situation with him and then it happened. Whilst watching, a jetliner slammed into the second tower. At that moment, I feared for our country. I knew in an instant that this was no longer an accident. No longer something extraordinary. This was deliberate. This was planned. This was war. War on our soil. War against us. Us! Americans! This was planned to hurt as many people as possible and to make a statement. A statement for all the world to see.

But, that's all I knew. Not the who's, the why's. The rest of the day was one horror after another. The seeming helplessness our country had in dealing with this attack. Our own planes being used as missiles. Genius, actually. Scary, definitely. Then my panic about all those friends who live and work in lower Manhattan. The phone lines jammed. The information coming so haphazardly. The towers falling. One. Then the other. Then another. WTC 1. WTC 2. WTC 7. It was mind boggling. Peter Jennings coming on and, goddammit, making me feel calmer, safer. I will miss that man for his outstanding grace under such unfathomable pressure. But, that day, and the days after, became blurry, disjointed, scary. I finally reached my friends. Jonathan, Andy, the others. They were safe. Scared. Safe. Thank God.

I didn't want to remember feeling the way I did five years ago. I still don't . I wrote that participating in the 2996 Project would be hard for me. It has been. I have cried over my memories of that day. I have felt the fear, hurt, anger that I felt on that day. It is not something I want to feel. It is not the way I should feel. It should not have happened. But, it did. And people died. So many died that day. So many have died since fighting "the war on terror". So, I avoided reading the articles over the years, or watching the retrospectives on the telly. It just didn't seem neccessary for me. Until now. I wrote my tribute. I met someone who died that day and I began to bring up all those memories. The fear. The pain. And now I am adding to that pain something more personal, the loss of someone I never knew. Whom I know. Even as little as I do. My memorial is nothing when compared to the man who died, and I know that. My words do not do him justice. They don't do that day justice.

I guess because there was no justice on that day. And there won't be justice. There never will. Death, needless, useless, wanton and deliberate, is never fair. Is never delt with justice or thought. It's madness and lunacy. It's ugly and pathetic.

It's life. And it sucks.

It shouldn't suck. It really shouldn't.

This is why I have avoided thinking about 11 Sept.

10 September 2006

2996 In Memory Of Siu Cheung Wong (R)


I sit, contemplating my entry to honour the memory of Siu Cheung Wong, who died tragically and needlessly on 11 September 2001. I read through the biography that I found when I searched through the internet for information about him. I am struck at how, through such senseless tragedy and horror, I now know someone personally who lost their life on that unforgettable day. The testimonies that I read from old schoolmates and friends. I read about his daughter and wife. I read about their first home, right here in the great state of New Jersey. I read about what a special and wonderful person he was. He worked for the American Dream and he died for the American Dream. Our culture, our society, our manifest destiny.
He was thirty-four...my God...he was only thirty-four years old, when his life was lost in the World Trade Center. He was one man. One death among thousands. But, to his wife, his daughter, his family, his friends and, now, to me, he will always be missed just a little more poignantly, a little more sadly, and yes, a little more angrily, whenever this anniversary comes. Because of this senseless act, I will never get the chance to really know you. That breaks my heart.
Siu Cheung Wong, although you have slipped off this mortal coil and have taken the final journey that faces us all, I do hereby leave this entry in your honour, in your name, in your memory.
Maybe, just maybe, my remembrance of you will keep you alive for just a little bit more, so that your beautiful wife and daughter can see your smile and know, that you have touched my life today. And will continue to live in my heart until I join you on that last journey.
I am so looking forward to finally get to meet you, someday in the great beyond, and see that wonderful smile of your's, face to face.
May you rest in peace. May we all find peace.

07 September 2006

Did God Free The Jews From Egypt?

I watched a most interesting program on The History Channel about the Biblical Exodus, Moses leading the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt and into the promised land. The program was investigating the problems with the timeline, such as who was pharaoh at the time, and when it actually happened according to the historical records found in Egypt and other places, the plagues and how they happened and if they could happen and the miracle of the parting of the sea and the location of Mt. Sinai where God gave Moses the ten commandments. It even covered the pillar of fire and smoke said to be the personification of God when He wrote the holy tablets. It was quite interesting because it came up with very plausible and probable reasons for pretty much each and every supposed "miracle" that is recorded in the Bible, which is the book of historical record for so many.
First, they covered the timeline, which changed the accepted pharaoh, Ramses, to another later ruler, who's name I'd never heard of. This also coincided with the writings that were found throughout Egypt of the expelling of a sect of Jewish rulers at the same time. In nearby Saudi Arabia, there were carvings that also date to the same time which depict the parting of the sea.
Then they covered the plagues. These were almost compleatly explained by the eruption of a volcano near Egypt, which most vulcanologists agree did erupt at that time and caused earthquakes throughout the Egyptian kingdom, disrupting fault lines and releasing gases which first changed the waters to red. Sediment on the bottom of lakes and rivers contains iron and when it's stirred up by the gas eruptions, it contacted the air at the upper levels and oxidized, much like rust on a car, turning the waters blood red. When this happened, the fish died and the frogs hopped out, causing the second plague. Then, lice, flies and disease happened because of the die off of the fish and creatures that lived in the waters. The final plague, the death of the first born, was attributed to the poisonous gases that came up from below ground, which is common when there are volcanic eruptions. Most of the victims of Pompeii and Herculaneum were killed by the gases, not the lava. The trip through the parted Red Sea was also explained by the volcano and subsequent earthquakes, which lifted the African continental plate thus draining the seas and giving the Moses and the Hebrew slaves passage across the sea bed. Once the tectonic plates settled, the water rushed back to it's previous levels. Using satellite images, they were able to view old lake beds and chart the fault lines which convincingly explained the entire scenario. They even used the first Gulf War to show how the burning oil fields in that area at that time could have been mistaken for the pillar of smoke and fire that was said to represent God in this story set so long ago. Once again, the earthquakes most likely caused an eruption of oil through the crust and it was set on fire, producing what looked very much like what was described in the Biblical text.
Finally, they think they found God's mountain, Mt. Sinai. It's located in an Egyptian military compound but, it has enough grazing area for the animals brought by the fleeing Jews, enough area to house them and the proper religious artifacts found in and around the area and on the mountain itself. They also found a gold pendant (in a museum) which seems to represent the temple where the Ark of the Covenant was kept and the altar where only Moses (among a few others) could go and worship. It sure looked like a representation of the Ark, as it's described in the Bible and the pendant was fashioned by the same tribe said to have made the Ark itself.
I found the entire program fascinating. I have long held that the Bible is a great teaching tool, full of stories steeped in tradition, allegory, common myth, and fact. The last being the loosest ingredient. Now, based on the information gathered by these esteemed scientists, archeologist, scholars and historians, we can dispel the hocus pocus aspect to the Bible and use it as the book of learning about the human condition. Mutual respect for each other and take from it the tools to live a better life, without the magical and mystical voodoo of God that was used by those who wrote it to explain the incidents happening in the world around them that they didn't yet have the scientific knowledge to understand.