By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

He still can’t write about it

What struck me about David Filipov’s account in today’s Boston Globe of his first visit to Ground Zero is that he still can’t bring himself to write about his father’s death on Sept. 11, 2001.

That’s what his piece is purportedly about; but it isn’t, as he instead interviews a security guard, two young women from Kazakhstan, a student — anyone, really, who pulls him away from his grief.

It’s a moving piece, because it’s a reminder of how difficult Filipov and thousands of others still find it to come to terms with what happened on that day.

The online version includes a link to a Filipov piece that was published in the Globe on Oct. 11, 2001, which he filed from Afghanistan.

Driving to work this morning, I started thinking about how much it seemed as it did seven years ago — clear and cool, a perfect September day. It’s become a cliché, but it’s the truth: Just as all people in our parents’ generation know exactly where they were and what they were doing on Dec. 7, 1941, so will all of us remember what happened seven years ago today.

Department of Defense photo by Denise Gould.

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  1. Learning to Fly Freely

    It’s excruciating to write about tragic, senseless events that affect us personally. I read somewhere today that 70,000 people in NYC still suffer significant symptoms of PTSD. About 2 weeks ago I opened a blog to write about my son’s death thinking it would be cathartic and bring me some sense of resolution. I have yet to write an entry. Still too painful.

  2. Ani

    I keep wondering why we as a country don’t deal with 9/11 as a tragedy about inhumanity, about cold behavior lacking empathy for other human beings, instead of as an event about politics and religion.

  3. MeTheSheeple

    Ani, I’d caution you about following the “inhuman” line too carefully.This slideshow may make you shiver for more reasons than I could count. Take a few minutes. I’m pretty sure it’ll be one of the most powerful and frightening few minutes of your life.Background here.

  4. Ani

    methesheeple,My (Jewish) father, and his immediate family, fled Nazi Germany in November of 1938. What I found especially chilling in the slides of the photos you linked were the pictures of Nazi officers who look like my grandfather looks in pictures in my father’s albums. We are them and they is us?

  5. MeTheSheeple

    Ani, when I saw that slideshow I shivered. And again. And again. I’m immensely glad your family made it out safely, but those pictures are of people — people! — enjoying themselves away from their jobs in helping ensure others were not safe.I’ve since done some additional reading, including an effort at Philip Zimbardo’s book on the Stanford Prison Experiment; I couldn’t finish it.Last week, I saw this article on a film based on real-life Hitler Youth-style experiments … in California.And I hear how neighbors and friends turned on each other in Rwanda, with machetes. Emotional closeness became close physical destruction.So I get a little on edge when someone calls someone else inhuman. Inhumane, certainly, but not inhuman. It seems some of us — perhaps even most of us — have it in us to do some pretty horrible things, to make those evil shifts pretty easily, and to maintain our sense of identity and self value and ability to enjoy life at the time.

  6. Ani

    methesheeple,I was actually looking for a noun form of “inhumane” — maybe I should have written, tragedy about inhumaneness, not tragedy about inhumanity.And no, not all my family made it out safely.

  7. MeTheSheeple

    Ani: I’m so sorry.

  8. Ani

    Thank you, methesheeple.Getting back to what I think were the other strands of this discussion, I’m not sure how to think about why human beings commit atrocities. I do know that there is also great beauty in this world, and human beings who sacrifice for others. The phrase “the banality of evil” comes to my mind, but I don’t think reifying painful and horrible things into a concept of Evil gets us into a world with fewer of them — I see the “evil” in “the banality of evil” as more about the acts themselves. But why we human beings commit them, I dunno. A disconnect between free will and the divine spark? between behavior and the soul?I doubt these musings of mine are terribly helpful to anybody else, but it’s the best I can do.

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