• 36°

Leonard Pitts: News becomes history, and we move on

By Leonard Pitts

Suddenly, it has been 10 years. That’s an amazing realization when you remember how it was back then. Calendars still counted off days, our eyes told us this. Clocks still ticked off seconds; intellectually, we knew. But time — I would have sworn this in a court of law — did not move.
I remember, in those awful days of aftermath, asking my colleague Dave Barry, then the Miami Herald’s humor columnist, if he thought he would ever write jokes again. “For the last week,” he told me, “I haven’t even tried to write anything funny, and for a while I thought maybe I never would, or should.”
He had it, we all had it, that sense of being stuck, unable to find your way back to the life you had lived before. I wrote 10 columns in a row about the horror I had seen, the planes crashing, the lives lost, the buildings melting, the people covered in dust. Finally, I had to force myself to write a column about something else, had to force myself to care about something that was not terror. That lasted one column. Then I went right back to what was now the norm. I was all terror all the time.
Now, somehow, that moment is a decade past. In measuring the distance, perhaps it is enough to note that today’s college freshman was a third grader then. Thus do the clock and the calendar do their work. Thus do today’s terrors become tomorrow’s memories. Thus does news become history.
And I find myself remembering how I used to torture ants as a child, the happy hours I spent flooding their nests with water, watching them grab their larvae and run for safety. The thing that struck me, that earned my childish wonder and respect, was that they always came back. Destroy their world a hundred times, they would build it a hundred and one.
There is something of that in human beings. Indeed, it may be some of the best of what is in us. Call it stubbornness, call it resilience, call it faith, but we always defy the random cruelties of life, always dig ourselves out, bury our dead, mourn our losses, rebuild, find a way to move forward. We did it when fire burned down Chicago, when earthquake leveled San Francisco, when broken levees drowned New Orleans.
And we did it when terror astonished and devastated us on Sept. 11, 2001.
Granted, we emerged from that crucible changed in ominous ways. We find ourselves at war on three fronts, government more secretive and invasive than it has been in years. We are running a prison beyond the reach of habeas corpus on the island of Cuba. The government may not let you fly and will not tell you why.
Yes, Osama bin Laden is dead, and experts tell us the terror group he led is weakened and may soon follow. But terrorism itself remains alive and well, as does a fervent bigotry against Muslims that has seeped into the mainstream of American political thought where it exhibits itself with a shamelessness that once would have been unthinkable.
So there is reason to be concerned at the place to which we have moved. But, having felt stuck inside a nightmare, I know there is also reason to be grateful we moved at all, that clock and calendar did their work and that there resides in us the stubborn resilience of ants.
It felt as if we might never go forward from that moment. But we did.
• • •
Leonard Pitts is a columnist for the Miami Herald. Email lpitts@miamiherald.com.

Comments

Comments closed.

Local

Political Notebook: Interim health director to talk COVID-19 at county Democrats breakfast

Local

‘Their names liveth forevermore:’ Officials dedicate Fire Station No. 6 to fallen firefighters Monroe, Isler

Crime

Blotter: Salisbury man charged for breaking into Salisbury high, getting juvenile to help

Nation/World

With virus aid in sight, Democrats debate filibuster changes

Local

City officials differ on how, what information should be released regarding viral K-9 officer video

High School

High school basketball: Carson girls are 3A champions

Lifestyle

High school, college sweethearts marry nearly 50 years later

Local

With jury trials set to resume, impact of COVID-19 on process looms

Legion baseball

Book explores life of Pfeiffer baseball coach Joe Ferebee

Education

Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education to receive update on competency-based education

Business

Biz Roundup: Kannapolis expects to see economic, housing growth continue in 2021

Business

A fixture of downtown Salisbury’s shopping scene, Caniche celebrates 15th anniversary this month

Local

Slate of new officers during local GOP convention; Rev. Jenkins becomes new chair

Landis

Landis officials narrow search for new manager to five candidates; expect decision within a month

Lifestyle

Together at last: High school, college sweethearts marry nearly 50 years later

Education

Rowan-Salisbury Schools sorts out transportation logistics in preparation for full-time return to classes

High School

Photo gallery: Carson goes undefeated, wins 3A state championship

Nation/World

Europe staggers as infectious variants power virus surge

Nation/World

Biden, Democrats prevail as Senate OKs $1.9 trillion virus relief bill

Nation/World

Senate Democrats strike deal on jobless aid, move relief bill closer to approval

News

Duke Life Flight pilot may have shut down wrong engine in fatal crash

News

Two NC counties get to participate in satellite internet pilot for students

Local

PETA protesters gather in front of police department

Coronavirus

UPDATED: Eight new COVID-19 deaths, 203 positives reported in county this week