An idiot in Athenian democracy was someone who was characterized by self-centeredness and concerned almost exclusively with private–as opposed to public–affairs. Idiocy was the natural state of ignorance into which all persons were born and its opposite, citizenship, was effected through formalized education. In Athenian democracy, idiots were born and citizens were made through education (although citizenship was also largely hereditary).
9/11 anniversaries have become a playground where we elevate all personal experience, just the fact of being alive on 9/11, to the same level of suffering and pain of the families and the people involved in the tragedy that was 9/11. We trivialize the real suffering. Time for a media blackout if you want to mourn and think about 9/11 and the outcomes of 9/11.
How dare you allow your hang nails and spats interfere with the memory of the people who were the direct hit of the airplanes? The families who are still in pain? The many who were wounded and their lives scarred for ever with your personal narrative? The magnitude of the outcomes after 9/11 are all diminished to the point of a farce.
In our desire to join the world of sufferers and victims, we abscond with other people’s suffering and we elevate our minor discomfort into a false equivalence with the people who did experience the pain. We bask in the empathy and sympathy that they should have. We turn away from the bitter outcomes of 9/11: wars, civil rights and human rights issues, jingoism, economic collapse, just some of the larger outcomes, into a competition of how we were “hurt”.
This is all part of the cultural sport of achieving moral high ground through the narrative of personal suffering. All human discomfort and experience is not the same. Not understanding the political and global implications of 9/11 through the suffering of the true victims, we dilute all the lessons that we should have learned. Each time we reduce such matters to ourselves and our lives, we march closer to being idiots and not understanding our political responsibility as citizens of a democracy.
Enjoy the media enhanced carnival of idiocy.