Robert Kirby: Where are you 19 years after the towers fell?

Robert Kirby

Friday is the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the U.S. Pentagon and an empty field in Pennsylvania. The attacks killed 2,977 people.

Note: Yes, the “official” count is 2,996, but I will never include the 19 bags of excrement who hijacked the planes and for whom the world is better off without.

It’s been 19 years since my wife woke me in time to witness the aircraft being flown into the second tower. It’s something I will never forget. All these years later, I’m still trying to cope.

Mostly, I coped poorly. My spirits temporarily lifted May 2, 2011, when U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden in his rathole in Pakistan.

I would rather believe that bin Laden survived the attack, received a fair trial, was sentenced, and is still being put to death this very moment with a pair of fingernail clippers inside an unnamed federal prison somewhere in the Midwest.

Logically, I recognize that feeling this way is not emotionally healthy. It’s merely pretending to cope with sorrow by substituting it for hate. And, in that way, 9/11 is still inflicting damage.

Forget about nameless terrorists for a moment and focus on something closer to home. Have any of your personal towers ever been brought down?

We all have 9/11 moments, times when our lives were brought low by abuse, infidelity, death, failure, assault, and any other way someone else deliberately or thoughtlessly tore a hole in our hearts.

Nothing was quite the same after the strike, nor would it ever be. The event altered the emotional landscape and changed some things forever.

Can’t help that. No amount of drugs, therapy, rage or vengeance gets us back to where we were before those moments that seared our lives.

The best we can strive for is coming to terms with the new and strange world left in the aftermath. Clear away ground zero all you want, but the wound is still there.

Hate is an understandable reaction. It might even be a necessary one — at first. Eventually, though, it robs you and everyone who cares about you of the person you should be.

If the assault on you was deliberate, hate ensures that the enemies maintain the upper hand. They end up owning a part of you without even realizing it. Hate erodes our emotions, robs us of energy, and turns us into the kind of people we never thought we could be.

It’s a matter of refocusing our energy. Sounds easy and even trite, but it’s the only thing we have control over in the aftermath of evil.

On this Sept. 11, I’ll be thinking of all the people — especially first responders — who went to work that day not knowing it would be their last, and the terror of the people who leaped to their deaths from the burning towers.

If I’m not careful, I’ll wander off into revenge mode and end up hating instead of using that energy to do some good in the world.

On this day — even if it’s just for this day — try to make the world around you a bit less likely to become someone else’s potential 9/11.

Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.