Vol. 9, No. 39
September 27 - October 3, 2001
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Turning into a Better America

“Like everybody else, I was pretty angry. Once we did this, some of my anger subsided,” said John Rivera of Riva, subject of this week’s Bay Life.

Throughout Chesapeake Country, people are using their anger — and the whole range of other emotions we’ve shared since the morning of September 11 — as fuel to build a better America.

We’re at the scenes of tragedy, shoulder to shoulder with firefighters, construction and demolition workers and forensic dentists from every state, ready for every job that needs doing. Some of those jobs, we know, don’t bear thinking about. Others are supplying the workers with food, water and comfort, or, like Rivera, respirators and even socks.

These active ones, the ones who had to be there, get the physical release of feeling their anger translated.

At another level, the same thing’s been happening across the country at blood drives every day since day one of the tragedy that — instead of tearing us apart — is uniting us. We’re rebuilding a better nation, too, at memorial services where our burning emotions light candles of remembrance, faith and determination. It’s happening at prayer vigils, like the interfaith service at the Islamic Center in Prince Frederick last Saturday. There, the Muslims of Southern Maryland invited neighbors of all faiths into their holiest space to strengthen the intangible brick and mortar that builds community.

That’s what happened, too, at the Deale Bluegrass Festival, where in an afternoon on Sept. 15, beer drinkers filled a bucket with $1,200 for New York’s firefighters and police.

With our hands, with our money, with our solidarity, we’re building a better America.

That’s one way the terrorists underestimated us. Anger is the hardest of emotions to manage. Even the littlest of everyday angers wants to blaze through the blood stream to erupt in a firestorm of retaliation. Yet stung to the quick as we are, we’ve weighted and measured our anger on the scales of justice.

We’ve done that, so far, as a nation, and we’ve done it as men and women. The senseless violence of spilled rage has been — though not absent — little in the news because we’ve had better things to do with our anger.

We’ve used it to dig out, mourn our dead, clean up and head for the future.

In many ways, the tragedy seems to have crumbled a malaise that had spread across the land. Jolted Americans are channeling their anger and emotion in ways that are enabling them to become more focused, and thus more productive, in their personal lives and their businesses. While it may be too early to say for sure, the attack seems to have awakened among Americans the spirit that has made our country so special.

Sublimation is the big word for what we’ve done, and it’s a powerful force. It is, some psychiatrists say, the energy that builds civilizations. Chemists define sublimation as a refining force, and philosophers call it ennobling.

We call it the fuel that’s rebuilding our nation.

Copyright 2001
Bay Weekly