Today is an exciting, but solemn day. It’s inescapable. We all remember where we were 15 years ago during the September 11th attacks on Washington DC and New York. I live near Washington DC. The idea that there was a terrorist attack so close to home hit me pretty hard. I like to think people in my area have gotten used to the heightened awareness of terrorism, but there are just some things you can’t and shouldn’t get used to.
I certainly remember where I was on that day. I was still in school at the time. It wasn’t exactly announced at first because nobody knew what was going on. I only found out when I heard one of my teachers talking about it with another. This was also at a time before cell phones became really common so a lot of people were freaking out. Some kids had family who worked in the Pentagon. I really can’t imagine the kind of dread they must have felt at the time.
For me, personally, I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. Maybe I still don’t on some levels. Back then, I was kind of a cynical little shit. I didn’t enjoy myself at school and I often looked for the worst in everything, be it global news or algebra exams. So in many respects, I think I was kind of numb to the initial impact. As time went on, though, it the 9/11 attacks taught me some valuable lessons.
First and foremost, there is a lot of hate in this world. Human beings are capable of some pretty sadistic shit and not just to those around them. There are people who cannot or will not let go of this hate. They’ll look for any excuse to justify it.
Some use politics from several decades ago as an excuse. Some even use politics from several centuries ago. Some will use their religion, their ethnicity, or their race. At the end of the day though, all those excuses are empty and shallow. That doesn’t matter though. When people feel hate this strong, they don’t just search for reasons to justify it. They search for reasons to cling to it.
As I’ve said before on this blog, the human brain isn’t wired to be rational. It’s wired for survival. Hatred may have some survival value. It really helps to hate that hungry bear that’s attacking your friends and family when you go after it. It’s not so helpful in an era where we have to worry about nuclear weapons more than bear attacks.
It’s a tragic byproduct of our human nature. We cling to hate and seek an outlet. There are many ways to confront it. I’ve even explored a few on this blog and in my books. This is what leads me to football.
Confused? Well bear with me. I promise this isn’t a non-sequiter. Like many Americans, I love football. I’m a huge NFL fan. I build my entire Sundays around watching football. Today is no different, but since today also happens to be the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I think it provides a unique opportunity.
Football is a violent contact sport. It channels some of our most basic emotions in a way that requires the utmost skill and dedication. Emotions like hate, love, passion, excitement, dedication, drive, sorrow all come into play. Both teams have to hate each other on some levels to want to hit each other. They also have to love their teammates on some level to work with them and trust them. It’s a chaotic, but potent combination of emotions that all manifest in the form of a game.
In some respects, it’s a good metaphor for how we manage these emotions that drive us. Men who hate so much that they’re willing to kill innocent people by the thousands do a piss poor job of managing those emotions. Football players are far more skilled in that respect. With those skills, they channel the emotions of millions of fans like me into something positive. It’s an a testament to the breadth of human experiences and one we should all celebrate/commemorate on a day such as this.
So are you ready for some football? After seven long months, I sure as hell am!