Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9-11, or, A Concept I Remember from College

In college, I avoided history classes like the plague. One I dropped out of after hearing that attendance would be 30% of the grade. Hellz no, 20-something-Sammo thought. Then, I took one on a pass/fail and spent every lecture meeting another chick for lunch because she was taking it pass/fail too. One I took and actually *attended* filled two different requirements, if I recall - it was Jewish History. I went often enough that people didn't see me and automatically assume we had a test. I took notes and I actually remember a few things.

One thing that stuck with me was the concept of zahor. It basically means "to remember" or "remembrance" - the idea is that culturally and as a group, the Jewish people would carry forth the remembrance of what they lived through. Tragic events would continue to matter because they would not forget. They would honor those who suffered, those who died, with this collectively carried remembrance.

Another idea I remember the professor telling us about was the idea of forgiveness only being the prerogative of the wronged. According to this professor, Jewish thought holds that only the wronged party has the inherent right to offer forgiveness to the perpetrator.

On this day, September 11, when Americans everywhere talk to each other and remember where they were and what they lived through 11 years ago today, I think of those ideas I wrote notes about somewhere circa 1999.

We have a duty to each other and our country to remember that day; the events, the people and the way it changed us. Zahor.

I don't have the right to spout off about moving on or forgiveness if my father, my mother, my brother, sister, cousin, friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife wasn't in those buildings or on those planes. Forgiveness is the prerogative only of the wronged. We grieved as a country that day, but none grieve like those who buried their loved ones. For me it was an empathetic pain and loss, not one where I attended funerals. It may make people feel good to talk about closure, but it isn't theirs to dispense.

Finally, I think that if I, as a Gentile (and as painfully WASP as one can get without claiming to be Mayflower material) can take Jewish thoughts to heart (as well as Buddhist because they are my homies); THAT is what this country is about. America isn't a melting pot; it's a big bitching veggie salad. We're all thrown together - Black, White, Hispanic, Asian - whatever, and as nice as a big red bell pepper is by itself, it's far more awesome in a salad with some Italian dressing. We're better together.

This country is a good place.

We will remember because we were NOT destroyed. Zahor.

I hope you all find what peace can be yours today.


MOV said...

great post, very moving. will be back to read more soon!


Sammo said...

Thanks - I appreciate it! Come by anytime. :)