What can a DC earthquake and National Geographic teach us about social consciousness?
Yesterday the DC area was rocked by an earthquake that lead to the temporary evacuation of most buildings downtown. As my office building overflowed with people descending onto the sidewalk, hurrying outside mumbling, chattering and bursting with the adrenalin that accompanies any natural event, I was struck by a thought. My, how quickly our trusted, modern society can deteriorate. Phone lines down. Texts not going through. Emails bouncing back. People flooding the sidewalk. Everyone passing around misinformation on the epicenter and magnitude of the quake. A bit of confusion descends upon us simple humans and our norms begin to crack in an emergency situation.Being a Southern California native, I have lived through several earthquakes, most notably the Northridge earthquake of 1994 which awoke us all in a fright, knocked down parts of our highways and destroyed our homes. Having this experience I was unafraid and unaffected by yesterday’s events.
Until…I was invited to the National Geographic Channel for the advance screening of the new documentary “George W. Bush: The 9/11 Interview” scheduled for a US premiere this Sunday, on the 10 year anniversary of 9/11. In this personal, candid interview with the former president, he tells the story of 9/11 in his own words. This is his first and only interview on this subject. It explores the decisions made by the former president on the day of September 11th, 2001, as he focuses on describing what he calls “the fog of war” that swept over the highest branch of our government.
There were times when I got teary eyed, watching our nation struggle with the harsh reality of death and the surprise of the attack we faced that fateful day. Other times I laughed out loud at our former president’s explanation of the unfolding events, or else cringed at some of his responses.
As the sad but familiar tale unfolded, recounting the day hour by hour, I couldn’t help but acknowledge the immense way in which our country came together during this time of despair and mourning. Specifically, I was reminded by the importance of having a strong emergency preparedness plan. A strategy for those times when mobile phones don’t function, the internet is useless, and everyone is trying to get in contact with someone.
But even beyond that, I became suddenly aware of the fact that it doesn’t need to take an earthquake, a terrorist attack or a natural disaster to have and express concern for those around you. The national tragedy that crashed into our lives on 9/11 surprised us all. None of us wanted to be thrust into this position. And yet, just like an earthquake, tragedy can rattle us in the most unexpected moments. It is the way in which we work together that increases our chances of survival and success.
This is just a personal reflection. A solemn remembrance of those we lost and that which we’ve learned. And at the same time, positive encouragement for us all to be patient with our neighbors and considerate of the frail and imperfect foundation upon which we have built society. Humans can be such simple and scared little beasts.
Tune in to National Geographic Channel this Sunday to see this groundbreaking documentary. And if you’d like to actively participate in remembering 9/11, MyGoodDeed and HandsOn Network have partnered to organize the largest day of charitable service in the United States history. Go to 911.org for more information and get involved!
Peace and Love people.