COLUMN: Silence and absence punctuate 9-11

Wright Turn

I awoke to the phone ringing.

I stumbled out of bed and grumbled a weary hello. It was my boss.

This was nothing out of the ordinary – my boss, the publisher of the Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle, had a police scanner at home and routinely called at all hours to alert me to emergencies (car crashes, house fires) she knew I’d want to cover.

But I knew immediately this call was different.

Instead of giving me an address, she simply told me to turn on my TV.

I don’t recall if I even asked why. I knew something was obviously, horribly amiss. I just did as I was told.

And watched in awe and horror and disgust and confusion as events unfolded.

I recall going to work later in the morning, but I don’t think I got much done. Everyone I talked to was too distracted to discuss whatever minutia was making news in our little corner of the world.

To be honest, my day-to-day life changed little as a result of 9-11.

But I recall talking to many, many people in the following days and weeks whose lives did change significantly, and to others about how they expected things to change further.

My most vivid recollection from 9-11 is of silence and absence.

For several days following the Sept. 11, 2001 tragedies, an eerie pall was cast over Ladysmith. It was noticeably quieter in our normally quiet community.

Even the birds seemed to respect the sombre mood cast across the world.

Looking up – I recall looking up a lot those few days – the con trails from jetliners and the buzz of smaller planes approaching Nanaimo Airport were conspicuously missing.

I think it was trepidation I felt upon seeing another plane overhead.

Much has happened in the ensuing 10 years. And the world has changed tremendously as a result of 9-11.

People have studied and pored over the events and attempted to learn how to prevent such instances from being repeated. Wars were fought and many died.

Security requirements were ramped up. Debates, both official government discussions and informal sidewalk talk, erupted over who was actually behind the attacks. Conspiracy theories abound.

My own opinion of the events and government policies that contributed and culminated in the Sept. 11 attacks, as well as those that followed, is now much better informed.

My skepticism and my distaste for obviously corrupt politics (across the globe) has grown tremendously as I’ve matured and learned over the past decade.

Regardless of opinions on politics or the policies and developments that followed 9-11, it’s necessary, at least for a short time, to put all that aside and simply pay tribute to the people who died that day.

On Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011, I will wake up early and listen for the quiet. I will remember again the vivid silence I heard and absence I felt 10 years ago. I will be pleased if neither are present other than in my memory.

***

Women’s events that shun male supporters continue to baffle me.

It’s not intended, I’m certain, but I take the exclusion as a personal affront – I don’t appreciate being told that since some men are violent and abusive, those of us who are not aren’t welcome to join women in voicing our opposition to such behaviour.

The generalization is offensive.

I am a male and proud of it.

I’m also proud that the majority of people who happen to share my gender are supportive of the females in their lives and strive for a safe, non-violent environment for all women (and men).

Shunning so many supporters simply sends the wrong message – that men can’t be trusted in the company of women.

True, some can’t. But what of the rest of us?

editor@nanaimobulletin.com