June 8, 2006
Thinking Introspectively and Retrospectively
Even before the alarm, I was awake, listening to the soft
beat of rain drops on the cottage roof. The Northeast has
been covered by leaden skies dispensing rain, mixed with a
chill that will not let go. Wisps of gray fog swirl over the
Hudson River and through the woods surrounding the house.
It is weather made for retrospection and introspection. I
worked from home; rain pelted down all day yesterday and I
was grateful for a fire in the Franklin stove.
We are coming up on the fifth anniversary of 9/11; five years
ago we were living the last summer of our homeland innocence.
Every network I know has planned their anniversary programming
as I am sure has every news magazine. 9/11: Five Years Later!
Sitting in a meeting at one of my production company clients,
a senior executive at their parent company dropped by, and
we chatted. Her tentative plan is to leave New York when her
retirement comes. She does not want to spend her Golden Years
in the worlds biggest terrorist target.
Such sentiments have resulted in many finding homes upstate.
Most of them are weekenders and for many their weekend place
is their lifeboat, the place they will retreat if something
bad happens in the city.
Far away in Iraq, bad things continue to happen. I woke to
the news that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda
in Iraq, was dead, killed in air strike against a secluded
safe house along with a half dozen or so of his
In the soft and enveloping darkness of my bedroom, with the
rain pattering on the roof, I found no relief that he is dead
though it is both, probably, strategically and tactically
good he is gone. I am sure he will, however, become
a martyr for the the cause and the
result will be an up tick in recruitment for the the
We have, I think, reached that weary point in the Iraqi conflict
when both sides no longer feel so clear about the essence
of their cause. The polls and blogosphere are clearly telling
Mr. Bush and the Republican Party that there is discontent
with administration policy. In Iraq, the streets are filled
with death and despair, the air rife with anger but
9/11 was a turning point; it will be decades before history
will be able to parse full meaning from the day and the ultimate
effects it will have on the course of our nation. We now have
major conflicts far away; our world standing is unequalled
and unparalleled in the antagonism that standing is generating.
While we fight, our ability to save lives on the battlefield
is dramatically enhanced, while at home we struggle with providing
health care for most. Gas prices have escalated as has our
national debt and while our attention is focused on military
maneuvers we have failed to devote our energy and intelligence
to understanding and coping with the complex set of historical
and cultural issues that have brought us to loggerheads with
Islam. We have not found a platform for conversation nor have
we much expressed a desire for dialogue with the angry men
who are leading this murderous diatribe against the west.
The threat of terrorism now stares down every western country;
Canada seems to have found a cadre of men whose intention
was to wreck havoc in Toronto and to storm Parliament, seeking
to behead the Prime Minister.
Attempting to absorb all this results, for me, in the feeling
I am living in some black and white sci-fi movie seen on the
Saturday afternoon movie when I was pre-adolescent. It all
seems surreal and not very plausible; except it is the world
While the wealth of the U.S. flows outward to support our
military engagements in the Middle East, many Americans are
now unconvinced that this course of action has done anything
to enhance our safety. Hence we seek weekend retreats and
retirement homes in places distant from potential carnage,
where the once assumed safety of civilization might still
be counted upon.