9/11 – On This Sacred Day – Three Things America Must Do

By September 10th, 2020

Blog No. 122
September 11, 2020 
Reading Time: 10 Minutes
By Mack W. Borgen, Recipient of Eight National Book Awards. For a “cleaner” / non-email presentation of this and my other blogs, essays, and articles, please go to my website at https://www.mackwborgen.com/
Copyright 2020 by Mack W. Borgen. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without prior written permission by the author.

On This Sacred Day – Writing a Better History

By Mack W. Borgen
University of California at Berkeley (Honors, Economics); Harvard Law School; Author, The Relevance of Reason – ((Volume I) (Business and Politics) and Volume II( Society and Culture) (2013) and Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America (Volume I (1957-1976), Volume II (1977-1993), and Volume III (1994-2015) (2018-2019). Author’s Note: This blog is based upon an article written by this author five years ago — September 11, 2015. It is here re-printed on this sacred day with some minor adaptations.
As Advertised in The New York Review of Books and Recipient of Eight National Book Awards

 Preamble

We Have Entered the Third Decade

9/11/2001 — 19 years ago.
It seems long ago. It seems like yesterday.
Children born after 9/11 are now voting. They are now in the military.
And our sacred duty is to honor that day

By taking action.

Our American democracy is neither young nor innocent. But, like all aging celebrities, we still think of ourselves as vibrant and energetic. We still believe we have a deep reserve of hard-earned wisdom.  
And with that in mind, today should be a day of national unity and remembrance; a day to reflect about that tragic days 19 years ago. Maybe, this year — this election year, it may be good to reflect upon how we want to be and behave.   
Some still see America as the only real and deserving world power. But the discord in our country reminds us that few Americans us as cresting in our greatness. In fact, three out of four Americans believe our country is heading in the proverbial “wrong direction.”
This may be accurate for the harsh tone of our country has enveloped us all. Too often, we seem to forget that our actions matter and that our words matter. Our rabid partisanship has consequences. And the style and behavior of our leaders matter.
We have now entered the third decade of this century. It is time for America to reset itself because too many of our country’s honored traditions are being abused or neglected. And the abuse and the neglect are taking a toll. 
In its own way, the horrific atrocity of 9/11 helped cause America to lose its way; to become divided; to become nationalistic and for dangerously re-aligning our nation’s friends and allies.
This November 3rd people who were born after 9/11 will vote for the first time. Those of us who were born before must at least try to set an honorable example for our younger citizens.
For example, we know name-calling and bullying are hurtful. They have existed for centuries. However, traditionally they have been left on the schoolyard playgrounds. Now, they have become a part of the style of our national conversations.
Allow me to suggest that we know better. Our democracy is more than 230 years old. America is now the longest surviving, constitutional democracy in the world. That is both a hard fact and a noble accomplishment.  
Until now, our nation has survived and flourished for many reasons – the breadth of our hopes; the aspirations of our equalities; the brilliance of the 4,543 words of our Constitution; the energy of our people, the bounty of our resources; and maybe because, for better or worse, our citizens have historically been more inclined to action than reflection. But regardless of the reasons, America is now in rarefied company. America has lasted nearly half of the duration length of The Roman Empire itself.
But now we are again at a crossroads — this one is of our own making. We have hard choices to make and much work to do. We cannot stay our current course. That itself is what a “crossroads” means. Wholly apart from the pains and strains of this pandemic, many communities have been dissolving for many years and many reasons. Partly, this is because the strain of America’s admixtures continues — contentment and cantankerousness; wealth and poverty; hope and despair.
And exactly because of these “strained admixtures” – this is a good time to re-commit to doing better; to working together better; to talking with lower voices.              
There is absolutely no need for us to allow a force-of-history inevitability of our own version of Gibbons’ Decline and Fall. Instead, this author believes we can write a better history for our nation. But a new style of leadership must evolve. Very bluntly, it is time for us to put away our childish toys; to use grown-up words; and to both earn and give respect of our fellow Americans.              
This article is written in honor of 9/11 – Modern America’s sad day of infamy. With our prayers and memories close at hand, this article suggests that this day serve as a day of remembrance and unity. This article humbly encourages us all to make some changes so that, together, we can write that better history.
One day at a time. One conversation at a time. We can do it.

Writing a Better History

As I wrote in my first book, The Relevance of Reason, I never met my uncle; my mother’s brother; my grandmother’s son. He died in the World War II. He died young. He died a long way from his Montana home while carrying a machine gun up the lonely, rocky hill in Monte Cassino, Italy.
For reasons I cannot easily explain, I miss him; a man whom I never met. Like thousands of others who lost a father or son or uncle or mother or friend in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Desert Storm, or more recently Iraq or Afghanistan — I sense that my life would have been different had he lived; had we met. Many years ago in a small town in Montana, my grandmother gave me his Purple Heart. She also gave a scrapbook which she had kept for him as a young boy. Now, so many years later, I still feel his presence. I remain indebted to his sacrifice. Even though he made it nearly 60 years before the infamy of 9/11.
Possibly this is because I, too, am a veteran. Possibly it is because I, too, have watched our young soldiers die or our wounded warriors come home — injured, scared, and in pain. Now, we owe it to them (and to ourselves) to understand the state of our country and lessen the confusion and anger of our people. To do this, we need to reflect upon the state of our ethics. We need to re-assert our principles and those of our Founding Fathers. There may be no better day today, this 9/11 — the Pearl Harbor of America’s younger and soon-to-be governing generations.
We need to address the millions of Americans who live in poverty; who are broken by despair; who are hobbled by fear. When I wrote this article five years ago, I noted that we could no longer ignore the fact that the proportion of children living in poverty is higher in the United States in than in any other developed country (excepting Romania). This has been allowed to continue. Because of the pandemic, it has even worsened. But our children should not be destined to accept fates which are undeserved and, worse yet, unnecessary.
Now five years later, we are fighting amongst ourselves and our allies. We are having trouble getting alone with Canadians. Think about that. Our wonderful, maple-leaf Canadians? Even in the context of the pandemic, we are trying to lead the world from the back of the pack – by almost any measure – cases per capita, fatalities per capita, and on and on. These are not matters of quibble for our political parties and the various departments of our government. These are facts we must first address. Then, we must learn from them.
And time is not on our side — and it certainly was not on the side of the more than 190,000 Americans who have died to date.
Nobody needs preachy, and I will use great caution. But there are, in my humble opinion, three things which must be done.
First, Americans must come to better recognize our 21st Century enemies. Sadly, our country will, from time to time, face some enemies in uniforms and with guns. Just like the era of 9/11, there will be terrorists who must be dealt with. But most enemies in our new century will be of a wholly different nature – climate change, forest fires, weather severity, food shortages, hurricanes, and flooding, and – unless America narrows wealth inequality in our country, devastating and incurable economic insecurity. Lastly, there will be more pandemics. Our history books someday will be filled with the scientific nomenclature of America’s new enemies – HINI, HIV-AIDS, Zika, Ebola, MERS, SARS, the Asian flu, the Swine flu, and now Covid.
Second, as lame as it may sound as you read this on a weekday morning, America must re-instill higher levels of CDH – Courtesy, Decency, and Honesty. These qualities must be embraced accepted as the threshold criteria for social, political, and even long-term economic success. Regardless of which political party one chooses and regardless of public policy disagreements, the trio of CDH – Courtesy, Decency, and Honesty must be accepted as prerequisites of public office. There are many reasons for this. We teach this to our children. We expect this from our children. So why do we so willingly allow (and display) lower standards from America’s ;eaders and our voting adults? In addition, there are severe consequences if we do not quickly change our behavior. This is because, over time, style becomes substance. Amidst today’s hyper-sensitivity about our use of language and image, I am hesitant to suggest that we bury our hatchets. But it is time. We must do so. CDH – Courtesy, decency, and honesty. It is a simple and needed change.
Third, allow this sacred day of 9/11 to be used as a day  of remembrance and unity.
Thus, My Summary Ideas Offered for Your Consideration
First,  better recognize the nature of America’s real 21st Century enemies. 
Second, demand that courtesy, decency, and honesty (CDH) be prerequisites for public office.
Third, use this day, 9/11, each year, as a sacred day of remembrance and unity.

 

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Dead Serious and Lighthearted – The Memorable Words of Modern America

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