Normal is Underrated


Yes, Osama bin Laden is dead. We can all rejoice in the fact that the retribution for the September 11 attacks has been done.  But, despite the death of the terror mastermind, America is not safer after his death.

You will not see the security lines at the airports disappear. You still cannot bring bottles of shampoo or aftershave on your flights. There still will be wanding of spectators at ball games and concerts in America and everyone will still be asked to speak up should they see something unusual in the streets of New York.  Yes, despite the death of the mastermind of the largest attack on US soil and the world's most notorious terrorist, the United States will never be the same after that fateful Fall day.

I was on my way to work on that crisp day in New York, about 14 miles from what is now known as "Ground Zero."  I was listening to Howard Stern, a radio host known more for strippers, fart jokes and butt bongo fiesta than serious news stories, when he notified his listeners that a plane "accidentally" hit the towers. As I ran to my office and put on CNN I soon was surrounded by all my employees, as we watched, and speculated.  It wasn't long after the first plane hit that our speculation became confirmed: The United States was under attack.

That day, actually, days, and weeks changed me and all New Yorkers and United States citizens forever. New York was in a proverbial lock down. You couldn't enter the city from a suburb because every roadway was blocked by police cars. It became an unwelcome vacation. From my office, you could see the plumes of smoke coming from what used to be the World Trade Center.

Months later, when things returned to post 9/11 "normal", traveling on the subways was eerily quiet.  There was no longer  the chatter of people that existed prior. The chuckles of regular conversation disappeared. Even the singers that begged for money were no longer there.  New Yorkers were in mourning.

The death of bin Laden only proves that the United States will persevere until justice is completed, it doesn't mean that things will return to normal. People are always suspicious, never comfortable, because in the back of their minds they know that inevitably, it will happen again. Despite his death, there are hundreds maybe thousands clambering to replace bin Laden.

The heroes today are those in the United States military. Those that killed bin Laden should be heralded, interviewed and enshrined. It could be a moment of incomprehensible joy and celebration. We need to celebrate the minor accomplishments, because tomorrow, next month or next year, we go back to normal: the lines, the security, the wanding, the unavoidable and necessary invasive tactics that are now part of our everyday culture.

It's no surprise that rebels in Egypt accomplished more in a few months of peaceful protesting than bin Laden accomplished in years of terror, mayhem and threats. Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old Tunisian fruit-and-vegetable seller, had doused himself in petrol, flicked a lighter and started a revolution that spread to many Middle East countries demanding democracy.  He is a hero and proves that peaceful protest works better than terrorism.

Ding Dong the Witch is dead. But, I dream of the days when things were normal.

Popular Posts