Monday, September 26, 2011

Sad September, by John Rullo

On Friday, September 9th 2011, I just so happened to be driving on Route 287 in New Jersey, heading towards the Turnpike, on route to the Holland Tunnel, to ultimately end up in Manhattan to make what I presumed would be a couple of “quick” deliveries. Along 287 I couldn’t help but take notice of two large construction vehicles facing each other with their cranes fully extended, draping a huge American flag between them. Initially, I thought it was odd and monetarily wasteful, but after removing my dunce cap, I had realized it was the 10th anniversary weekend of 9/11 and only then did the big, bold display of the flag start to make any sense to me.

Traffic was unusually heavy as I approached the Holland Tunnel when my cell phone rang. Knowing I was on my way into the city, it was my dad inquiring about my day.

“Hey, how’s your morning going?” he asked seeming more concerned than usual.

“Tunnel looks a little backed up,” I answered, “Why do you ask?”

“Don’t you listen to the news?”

“No dad, in fact I try my very best not to,” I told him.

“The city is on terror alert,” he informed me, “Please be careful!”

“Great!” I thought to myself, “Just what I need to know!”

As I neared the toll booths, I saw armed police officers randomly stop trucks and ask the drivers to step out and open the doors so they could inspect their freight. I suddenly got the sinking feeling that it was going to be a long day. As I slowly entered the tunnel, my imagination kicked into hyper-drive, sending images of chaos, mayhem and destruction through my already angst-ridden brain. It couldn’t be soon enough until I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

In all my days of driving through the streets of Manhattan, this was without a doubt one of the worst I’d ever experienced. From Hudson Street to Lincoln Center, from Delancey Street to the Robert F Kennedy Bridge, traffic was at a standstill as police cars positioned themselves to funnel all traffic into one lane in order to inspect every vehicle on every avenue. A task that should have taken me all but twenty-five minutes took hours as thousands upon thousands of cars, trucks, taxis and buses (including the double-decker sightseeing ones) impatiently inched their way across the Big Apple. Red lights changed to green and no one could advance. The meters were running in motionless taxis and gasoline wastefully burned as carbon monoxide flowed from the hot steel tailpipes of countless idling engines and I could see the frustration, the anger and the stress aging people’s faces as they sat helplessly in their vehicles. My patience was wearing thin knowing my last stop was less than two blocks away and knowing I had no choice but to crawl at a snail’s pace in order to get there. It took a little less than an hour to advance one city block and finally accomplish my mission, only to wedge my way back into the bumper to bumper nightmare and hopefully make it over the 59th Street Bridge to return to the security of Long Island. 

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I heard the chilling screams of numerous sirens. Traffic cops were motioning vehicles to clear the intersection as a parade of brand-spanking new squad cars jerked their way down a cross street, sirens blaring, lights flashing. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I beheld the law enforcement vehicles each displaying unique highly detailed, lavishly painted designs rendering scenes related to the 9/11 tragedy.  It was as if the cars were manufactured and designed just for the occasion. What made it even a little more nauseating for me was seeing the large UPS corporate logo proudly displayed on the rear of every car as a not-so-humble announcement as to who the sponsor was. The cars weren’t responding to a call; they were simply strutting their stuff, adding to the confusion of what was already a very trying day for motorists.

In order to terrorize a city, or a nation for that matter, all terrorists have to do is simply announce that something tragic will occur on any given day and they’ve succeeded without lifting a finger. It’s sad to say, but the horrific events of 9/11/2001 greatly changed our lives here in the good old USA. Fear has seeped into the American atmosphere and as predicted in George Orwell’s’ 1984, Big Brother is truly watching every move we make. As to why 9/11 occurred in the first place is a topic, like the JFK assassination, that will be debated for centuries to come. My relationship with my country has soured greatly since my naïve younger days. I compare it to discovering that the woman I’d been madly in love with all my life never really loved me and all the while, thinking I could trust her, she was engaged in multiple love affairs. All the years I believed America could do no wrong, I learn that she’s been wheeling and dealing behind the scenes, creating enemies, endangering her citizens and the welfare of the earth because of her insatiable greed. What occurred on 9/11 was a Karmic result of America’s irresponsible behavior.

My heart truly goes out to anyone who lost a loved one or had to witness firsthand the atrocities of that dark day, yet at the same time I am finding it extremely difficult to get behind the flag wavers and all the false patriotism that saturates the media every September eleventh. I guess it’s not a bad thing to be proud of one’s country but I can’t help but tend to view patriotism as small-minded. I’d much prefer if every earthling practiced “Globalism’ or “Universalism.” Don’t get me wrong! I would never want to see the day when we drop our defenses to find ourselves taken over by some maniacal dictator who gives us the choice to either conform to his ways or lose our heads. In my Utopian idea of a world that could never happen, but alas, my dream world is not the physical world we inhabit. As far as the proud to be American mindset is concerned, I have to ask, what is left to be proud of? Our country’s leadership is a farce. It’s nothing but a song and dance routine between two competing political parties who would sell their souls to remain in power, each of them with agendas that serve themselves and not the citizens who blindly elected them. America has abandoned all of its industry resulting in the highest percentage of unemployment it has ever seen. American government has been paying farmers not to farm. At one time we were the richest agricultural country on the earth and today most of our food supply is being genetically modified!  Wheat fields have been turned into corn fields to produce ethanol and corn sweeteners. How ironic is it that we are trillions of dollars in debt to a Communist country? The threat continually looms over our heads that there may not be any social security funds available for our future senior citizens. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have lost their life savings and retirement accounts because of corporate greed and careless mismanagement. Projects involving alternative energy are continually getting squashed due to the stronghold the oil companies have on America’s politicians. Our education system has been compromised and our young people have been scammed into borrowing hundreds of thousands of dollars to attend college in pursuit of jobs that no longer exist. Need I continue?

What’s the answer? As naïve and crazy as it sounds, love is the answer. When I say “love,” I’m not referring to the word that rolls off our tongues in the heat of passion or the admiration we may have for the newest Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor. When I use the word love I’m talking about the powerful, most influential force in the Universe; the ingredient that initiated life, holds the stars in place, commands the sun to shine and cosmically connects all living matter. Until we learn to squash our egos, come to the realization that none of us knows squat and that the Earth can easily carry on without us, nothing will change. Until we face the fact that all of humanity originates from the same spark, shares the same desires and fears, nothing will change. Until we take the leap to finally raise our level of consciousness, we will forever be caught up in the illusions of right and wrong, good and evil, heaven and hell, waving our flags and aiming our missiles toward one another. We will be eternally fooled by the delusion one is better than the next and that there is a game to be won. Love is yearning for humanity to recognize her power. Until then, she waits patiently.          
- John Rullo

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