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Wailing for Humanity on 9/11

by Bill Whitesell and Shelly Beach

The following messages by Bill Whitesell and Shelly Beach were posted on Ewail (the Convention internet group) after the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

Human beings! Damn. I had such dreams for you, for us. Destined, I thought, for the peaceful colonization of the galaxy. But are we worthy of any such potential? Can we be entrusted even with the powers we've already developed?

The human in us now seems like that man dangling from the 78th floor - courageously seeking escape from the fury of the plane's fire. He reminded me of that other man from some years ago, that lone Chinese dissident standing in front of the column of tanks. Each of them naked in their humanness, fragile, yet seeming for a moment to have a heroic triumph in hand.

The Chinese dissident was eventually imprisoned. And today, the man dangling from the 78th floor plummeted to his death when acres of steel collapsed around him.

Oh human beings, what suffering we bring upon each other! Are we forever doomed by the crazies among us? The monsters in human form? The over-empowered barbarians? Are we really destined only to destroy ourselves? And the chance for good within us?

I cry and I cry and I cry . . . and no god will save us, no god will spare us . . .

Oh, fellow healing-seekers, are we condemned to be nothing but a transitory island of emotional relief in a vast sea of human agony heading to self-destruction? How can we bring life and love to this warped world of vindictive hatreds? Are we tender shoots viable at all, amidst these dominant barbarisms?

Desperately, I groped for a fix. Brain chemicals seem too slow and uncertain. The fundamental moral structure is far too tenuous. Don't we need the ultimate - a DNA transplant? A new species to replace us?

Oh, dear friends, how can I maintain faith in the long, voluntary process of healing, when the world is aflame? How can our healing ever spread far enough and fast enough to save humanity from itself? I cry and I cry . . .

And I am thankful at least and at last that I am not alone. I feel you here with me now, fellow healing-seekers. I know that I wail with you, dear friends, in our shared, wounded humanity. And as I reach for recovery within myself, I draw strength from your presence, strength that may yet sustain me in hope for the healing and goodness of the human heart.

Bill Whitesell

On Monday, Sept. 17, I went to the Memorial site for those who were missing and dead in the September 11th catastrophes. It was in Union Square Park just a few blocks from my house. I was soooooo overwhelmed with all the flowers, notes, candles, etc. The sun was shining that morning but I felt a dark cloud overhead. Not many people were there but the prayers and voices of all the people who wrote their feelings on American flags, large pieces of canvas, small notes scribbled and stuck in a fence, and the many, many, many photos of the missing, were loud and clear. The faces in the photos were happy - some on vacation, some in wedding gowns, some with children - and all full of life. I saw a note that struck me soooooo deeply and I feel it's imbedded in my brain: I NEVER KNEW YOU BUT I'LL NEVER FORGET YOU.

I then went to Washington Square Park where there was another Memorial site represented by a fence all around the Arch, covered with photos of the missing, candles and flowers on the fence and on the ground, and markers for people to write their feelings. With those words still swimming in my head, I wrote on several American Flags that hung on the fence: I NEVER KNEW YOU BUT I'LL NEVER FORGET YOU. I lit some of the candles that had gone out, as others were doing and felt my feelings, talked to strangers and looked up and saw a sign that said: FREE HUGS.

I need some now.

Shelly Beach

This article appeared in the Fall 2001 IPA Newsletter.

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