Your Thoughts On How Best To Remember 9/11?

What are your thoughts on all the 9/11 coverage? What do you think are the most important things for remembrances of the day and analyses of the last decade to do or not do in relation to this anniversary? Tomorrow I hope to have the time to write a few posts on a few major philosophical issues related to 9/11 and issues that have arisen from the decade of fear and war that occurred in its shadow. I am curious though in general, from a media analysis perspective, what people’s responses to the innumerable approaches to discussing the day and its aftermath are? What has struck you as valuable, as exploitative, as missing from all you have been exposed to in the media and on the internet the last week?

Without a civic religion to guide us in rituals, our secular public space has to build its own symbols, rituals, traditions, and other means of remembrance, reflection, and honoring in a more ad hoc and varying way. In many ways this is wonderful since it opens up the space for varieties of insights, expressions through a variety of forms—rather than a regimented religiously ordered set of forms which all community members no matter how different in their values or temperaments or personal modes of expression are supposed to participate in and find meaning in equally. The diversity of forms allows a diversity of meanings to express themselves and to be shaped anew in every new context by ever new means.

Yet, the possible downside of not having formal understood liturgies for things like public mourning are that with so much responsibility on individuals to creatively and sensitively work these things out for themselves, some can do it badly and offensively, while others can neglect to have any valuable meditative focus at all without being disciplined into it by the dominance of customs. And, even worse, some can take the opportunity to selfishly feel aggrieved because their religion and its pseud0-authority and pseudo-comforts are neglected. Remember folks, the real victims of 9/11 are the clergy who do not get to hog the spotlight at 9/11 memorials and propagandize their roles as the spiritual fathers of the city.

But I digress.

Back to the main question, “what has been good and bad about our culture’s means of remembering one of the most significant and transformative days in American history?”

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • Tisha Irwin

    I’m trying to avoid the coverage as much as possible. I had enough nightmares 10 years ago; I don’t need them now. However, I’ll be in NYC soonish and I do plan to go to the site so I can see the new buildings finally coming up.

  • Michael Zeora

    what has been good and bad about our culture’s means of remembering one of the most significant and transformative days in American history?

    My Great-Grandmother said to me when she was 94, that living through history be it of triumph or tragedy – it does change those who lived to witness it. Those who do not take the time to remember what changed are doomed to repeat it. Those who were too young to understand, or not their to know – need to be taught by those who were. She lived until 1998, only missing the first and last few years of the 20th Century.

    On the note of Secular Mourning in Public, I think we found the right balance that doesn’t hinder the religious should they wish to silently pray, and allows for a true unity in mourning.

    Moment of Silence, Reading of the Names, A Bell Toll for each Name it’s solemn, final, and humbling. The problem is crafting them in the first place. The Moment of Silence is taken from the Religious Context, but it’s almost needed for the whole thing to work.

    In terms of coverage, I’ll probably watch what they do over at WTC, and try to dodge any of the footage of that damned day.

  • Greg Laden

    Well, I’ll be blogging about it, obviously!

  • comfychair

    How best to remember?

    By re-reading Arundhati Roy’s Come September. 9 years later nothing’s changed (well, not for the better, anyway), and we’ve learned nothing. :(

  • comfychair

    And on the subject of the 10th Anniversary Grand Spectacular Extravaganza Remembrance Party…

    [...]cynically manipulating people’s grief, by packaging it for TV specials sponsored by corporations selling detergent and running shoes, is to cheapen and devalue grief, to drain it of meaning. What we are seeing now is a vulgar display of the business of grief, the commerce of grief, the pillaging of even the most private human feelings for political purpose. It is a terrible, violent thing for a State to do to its people.

  • Mary C. Young

    I never wished that I were in New York more than I did today. I think today is so important as a day of healing and powerful symbols. There is something beautiful about what’s going on

    . But I have a problem, and a serious one, about the exclusion of clergy rom the podium today. In the wake of September 11th, clergy were a huge part of the healing process of the city – not because they innately have a monopoly over moments of mourning but because people WANTED them to be a part of the healing process of the city. I think, considering the religious nature of the attacks and the power of Islamophobia and hatred against atheists there would have been something incredibly powerful about truly pluralistic symbols and voices – the same symbols and voices that moved people ten years ago to come together and move on as a city. I think there would have been something beautiful about the message that people’s personal religious beliefs DON’T have to wreak destruction, schism and chaos.

    But those are all “what-ifs” and I think the day is turning out beautifully. My biggest critique is the coverage. I didn’t know anyone personally who died on Sept. 11th but my friend’s dad did and instead of hearing her say his name, I heard Tom Brokaw talk about China. I watched commercials. I listened to Brian Williams. I just wish today we could’ve let the cameras do the talking. And, as if they didn’t make it clear that this coverage was 100% focused on the ratings, all of the news channels (I don’t have cable so I can’t watch CSPAN or Fox of CNN) finished coverage of the memorial and switched to typical Sunday morning infomercials.

    For anyone who has ever lived in New York and then left, you know that you make a deep connection to the city that can’t easily be explained to people who aren’t from there. I wouldve liked to feel like I was in New York today instead of feeling like I was watching coverage of the Olympics or something.

    Please excuse typos- I wrote this on my phone which isn’t formatted for this site.

  • Mike K.

    This hoopla is silly.

    No one needs a remembrance day, I don’t think anyone forgot.

    I really think after the events, the USA should’ve taken its time to heal, mourn and come to grips with what happened, rebuilt the towers higher and moved on. Instead the memory of that day is caught up in an awful quagmire of taking it out on Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s not an eye for an eye, it’s more like 100,000 eyes for an eye.

    The celebrations and festivity around the news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed sat equally as putrid in the mouth. It reminded me of the people celebrating the 9/11 attacks in the streets, burning American flags, only a mirror image. It’s an old story through, a violent and vicious attack on loved ones turns the antagonist into some blood thirsty monster bent on vengeance.

    Can we stop to remember the fallen -in the wake- of the tragedy?

  • tony

    The attack was motivated by religious beliefs so the the key point should be a desire for a future where religion has no relevance to everyday life.

  • lily

    The best way is to remember it through videos.


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