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Get Over It

It is time.

By Roy D. Follendore III

Copyright (c) 2002

September 11, 2002

It is a heroic thing to risk ones life for the life of another.  Yet at the moment that they died, not one of them would have wanted to give up their life and their families to be a hero.  The heroes did not want go into the building with the absolute certainty of death.  True heroes do not commit suicide. They do what they must do in spite of death, not merely to embrace death. The passengers of the last hijacked plane may have well known for certain they were going to die. What they did, they did in spite of death. What we must do we must also do in spite of death.

Death is so obvious, dreadful and inevitable it must be deliberately faced with courage. Of course Americans have the greatest of sympathy for the dead and the survivors of the tragic terrorist attacks of last year.  But regardless of our sympathy, both the good and the bad people that died on September 11th of 2001 remain dead.  They are just as dead as they were at the beginning of the year.  They are just as dead as they will be tomorrow, next month, next year and a billion years from now. They are just as dead as the Americans that died in Korea and Vietnam.  All of the dead are where they are and it does not make one bit if difference if you believe they are in heaven, hell or simply pushing up daisies.  We too must face death now through them.  But there is a time to put their names on a marble plaque somewhere and go on with our lives. They would have wanted that now.

It is also time for Americans to get over our utter insanity and irrationality.  The kind of demonstrations of loss and fear that we are seeing all around us today is not just about fear and grief.  It is not just about memories.  The media memorials about the power the media has over us.  They are being presented as a service to America when in fact for most of us it is a service to our own shear gratification.  We like to feel like we are united because it makes us feel safe and it makes us feel righteous.  It does not occur to us that we Americans are allowing our leaders and our news media to exploit the effects of terrorism.  In effect, Americas grief is being exploited.  Politicians and celebrities are out there making sure that everyone knows that they too were heroes.  We have made multimillionaires out of the victims families because of this.  People are pushing Congress to revisit this disaster every year as a National holiday.  The Nation was put on some crazy kind of publicity based threat posture with live missiles ringing around DC.  The military in camouflage are walking around on our public streets with machine guns.  Jet fighters are armed to the teeth and in the air, ready to shoot down civilian airliners. Such an aircraft from Memphis, Tennessee was forced down today because some Arabs shaved on the plane.  State Police are creating their own intelligence organizations and sending them overseas.  I can not be the only person that has noticed that most of this security has been nothing but expensive nonsense brought about by people in offices of public trust who are in fear. I can not be the only person that has noted that every whiner that can whine is out there on television and radio talking and making a name for themselves out of the blood of innocent Americans.  

Meanwhile to make an example to the World, the United States is poised to invade Iraq, a low life, second rate desert dictatorship because we think it is going to attack us with nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.  Or is it because we are protecting our access to oil.  Or is it because our Presidents father more than a little dislikes the fellow that he left in charge of that country.  Whatever the reason, Americans and the rest of the world has been given absolutely no evidence of that the weapons of Iraq exist.  Meanwhile, one of our best former weapons inspectors is over there in Iraq trying to get out the word through the media that there is no evidence over there either.  No one is listening because we do not want to listen.  What does Iraq seem to be asking for in return for full inspection? A lifting of sanctions.  After more than a decade of bombing and shooting maybe it is time to think about what it is that we have been trying to achieve.  What the hell are we doing over there?  

Something about all of this is all wrong.  From the citizens perspective the leadership of our country seem to have handled this terrorist thing the wrong way.  We have shown ourselves as having little internal leadership.  We have shown little military restraint.  We run around like our Moslem neighbors are our enemies.   We have been buying into another senseless war while we are making war internally upon ourselves.  We need argument.  We need opposition to the status quo.  We need these things to be brought to the public because that is what makes America strong.      

Does this mean that we should forget what has happened on 911?  No.  It just means that it is time that public demonstrations of false nationalism with little American flags and all of the other hype should come to an end because little American flags and stopping people from clipping their finger nails on aircraft do nothing to kill and bury terrorists.  It means that the administration should not be further stirring up nationalistic anger over the dead of 911 on one hand, while simultaneously demanding that leaks to the press should not be occurring.  We need an open and honest debate  to the American people operating through Congress. Americans have an absolutely reasonable right to know and to debate the facts based on evidence.  It means that it is time that our Government is willing to quietly and efficiently take care of problems that threaten us, and that it admits that they have been part of the problem even before 911 occurred so that we can rebuild the kind of infrastructure that once made America strong.  We do not need to reinvent government, we just need our leaders to do their jobs.  It should do this because the strength of our infrastructure was never built upon tightening of security regulations, but upon the simple sweat, personal faith and bravery that it takes to have a better future.  

There are facts that suggest that America has been making grave errors over the past two years and we are ruining our country through our ignorance.  

  • The fact is that this has been on the Republican administrative watch which was poorly handed over by the Democratic administration.  Republicans continued to screw up.  Democrats did everything they could to make the transition rotten.  They succeeded in damaging National Security because of their transition antics. 
  • God bless all of the Federal agencies that are supposed to protect us.  Many of those men and women work long and hard to do the right thing in spite of what they are up against.  But the fact is that there are more than a few leaders within the agencies that are corrupted by internal influences that allow them to excuse their poor actions in favor of loyalty and promotions.  For them the oath they take means nothing because they are not willing to put their jobs at risk to do the right thing.  There are always a few tyrants and dictators who demand specific conclusions and results without objectivity and there is no recourse.  Because of this, life in these agencies become a kind of collective group think.  It is a horrible existence for those who are creative objective thinkers and it is the reason why most people leave.  They are sometimes considered misfits with respect to the group think and not encouraged even when they are able to produce spectacular results. Congress has known about this insidious culture for more than a decade but nothing has been done about it.  The way to make agencies better is to promote broader leadership ideals that encourage objective solutions.   It takes very little managerial experience to recognize that all large and complex organizations will have these kinds of problems to some degree. But the fact remains that the the CIA, NSA and FBI simply did not do their job to warn America and no one was held responsible.  It is foolish  to think that they did not know. There are too many complex reasons why so many errors were propagated for so long.  In basic terms they all failed to support National Security, probably because in one way or the other they were too wrapped up in the cover of internal politics.  There was an obvious cover up of failure that was being ignored.  Beyond that, all organizational cultures need to protect the status quo and that means that loyalty is important.  But ultimately personal loyalty needs to be to our Nation not a particular agency or individual.  From an administrative perspective this means that there must be both internal and public accountability in order to have organizational progress.  We do not know what has happened internally but we do know that public accountability has not occurred.  It will take sensitive, creative and capable individuals to be able to accomplish observable change and improvements without damaging the capability of these organizations, requiring exactly the kind of individuals that are too often internally discouraged. 
  • The fact is that the expense of hundreds of billions of dollars that has gone into National security over the past year has not made the United States significantly safer.  We will find that most of the money spent has been wasted by people looking for terrorist under their beds.  What has made America safer has been that people involved in National Security now understand the demonstrated need to do their jobs.  The cost the way that we have approached security has been too costly because we could have done far more with far less. 
  • The fact is that we have not eliminated the SOBs that perpetrated the 911 attack.  We did not go after the head of the snake in a timely manner.  
  • The fact is that Americans have been giving up their civil rights and personal freedoms without any guarantee of safety or the return of those freedoms.  We have another unofficial "war".  Congress did not make a declaration of war.  Because of it, there is therefore no end to this mess.
  • The fact is that America is being seen overseas as a threat to world peace.  Guess what?  Everyone has become more afraid of the U.S. than the terrorists. With all of the public declarations of U.S. independent military action, I wonder why? 
  • The fact is that we have not yet faced up to the fact that we are continuing to ignore that we are continuing to pay into the most cost efficient attack that has ever existed in the history of civilization.  This is not difficult to estimate mathematically.  Take what the attack has since cost us and divide by the estimated cost to the enemy.    
  • The fact is that we may very well continue to justify the expenditures which we can not afford and continue to devastate our economy.  It is easier to open the valve, it is much harder to close it or account for the effectiveness.  There has been little accountability.  We can expect that most of the money is gone and unaccountable.
  • The fact is that for the past year we Americans have been trying to take the righteous high ground where there is none because we are truthfully at least indirectly responsible for much of what occurred.  We American act as though we own the planet instead of sharing it.  We might be the good guys but Americans do not have the exclusive right to independently represent the planet.  
  • The fact is that America has invaded one third world desert nation whose primary cash crop is opium and we have now become responsible for it.  What devastated third world country should not create factions to attack America if it means that we will rebuild their infrastructure?  
  • The fact is that Americans do not really give a damn about these people in Afghanistan or their future and there is little that we can do for them.  Pick up a book and read about that country before you argue with this statement.  The cultures of the country do not operate by American standards.     
  • The fact is that if we wanted to wipe every city of Iraq off the face of the earth we could do so without a single American stepping foot on their soil.  Go look up Janes on Nuclear Bombs if you have any questions.    
  • The fact is that America is becoming an Imperial country in the eyes of world because we want to control the world.  Of course we don't.  We just want everything our way and we want to change the rules whenever we want.  Uh... Oh, I think that might be part of  the definition of Imperial control.      
  • The fact is that America is ignoring the World Court, the treaties on World environment, and treaties and agreements we have had about human rights.  Where did the concept of Democracy go?  Now why do we support the King of Saudi Arabia?  (See maintaining the high ground.)  
  • The fact is that we are holding Americans and prisoners without a free and open trials.  Can you say prisoner concentration camps, or how about American gulags? That is what detaining people for indeterminate periods without a trial means. This is not the America Americans want.  War is no justification for abolishing the court system and therefore the checks and balances of the Constitution.
  • The fact is that the personal bravery to push up a hundred flights of stairs within a burning building can never make up for the fact that the fire department should have allowed those who were trying to get out, get out.  Those who made the decision to order those New York firemen to remain at the foot of the World Trade Center were not qualified to recognize what they were doing.  The people at the scene giving orders should have been structural engineers not heroes.  The decisions of individuals who ordered the rush up those stairs as well as those who created and taught firemen that kind of policy,  contributed to the death of hundreds, perhaps thousands of people through their lack of understanding of the catastrophic problems involved with management of emergency rescues from large buildings.   There should have been a contingency for the pending catastrophic failure of buildings and there was every reason to trust that the leadership of New York City would have done so.  Even now we see engineers going after the wrong solution.  Instead of rushing to design buildings to stand up to jet airlines being rammed with a full load of fuel, it would be better to deal with how the systems of organized rescue contributed to making dead heroes out of our firemen.  Why are we not seeing this?  
  • The scope of the legal system that would contribute to positive change has been short circuited.  How many millions of dollars were paid to the victims to keep them from complaining? 

Do not assume that these tough issues are more or less than what they are.  What happened on September 11, 2001 was not caused by anything less than evil.  But evil can be made less if we choose to create something good out of it. 

The fact is that we are not facing up to some critical issues because we are not facing up to ourselves.  But we sure need to.  We need to do it right now.  For even if some of these facts are arguable, that simply means that they need to be brought into the open and publicly debated.  The objective is to support the ideals of honor, duty, and courage so that we can minimize the need for sacrifice. The unsung heroes are those who find the way to eliminate the need for heroes.

As a nation we need to get over this morbid fear, our anger and our wallowing in the self serving suffering and pain.   Death is an open wound.  We must not allow it destroy our Nation keeping that wound open. 




Copyright (c) 2001-2007 RDFollendoreIII All Rights Reserved