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9/11: The Courage of Many
About twelve days after 9/11, I cadged a ride down to Lower Manhattan with a police chief friend and the head of security from an investment bank. The still-smoking site took one aback with the evidence of the millions of pounds of pressure that had been applied as the structures fell. I looked in vain for anything familiar in the wreckage: desks; computer monitors; or even, due to their strength, porcelain toilets. Nothing recognizable had survived the fall.
Additionally, I asked my hosts for the inside story of the evacuation. Had people really been as calm, courageous and considerate as the press had depicted? After all, these were hard-charging competitive capitalists, aggressive businessmen, even Masters of the Universe. My guides confirmed that, in fact, people had quite invariably not panicked; they had assisted each other without regard to rank or strength.
As they say in the UK, that was a pretty good show. We could go so far as to call it a test of civilization: under life or death pressure, people, who otherwise competed against each other, exhibited a social solidarity wherein they treated one another with the same solicitousness as they showed for themselves.
The world offers us many examples of individual heroism; however, mass heroism, the presence of mind and the depth of culture that puts community ahead of self, is harder to find. I do not quite believe, though I can’t prove the point, that people in all other nations would have demonstrated the same self-possession in similar circumstances.
Addendum: Today is Patriot Day, a day of mourning and a celebration of heroism — though not a federal holiday. According to Wikipedia, “the President requests that the American flag be flown at half-staff at individual American homes, at the White House, and on all U.S. government buildings and establishments, home and abroad. The President also asks Americans to observe a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 A.M. (Eastern Daylight Time), the time the first plane struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.”
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…
August 23, 2009
Fare Thee Well, Tom Crady
And now Dean Tom Crady has precipitously announced his departure from the College after only 20 months on the job. How to read this? By way of background, prior to coming to Dartmouth, Crady had…
May 31, 2009
Kangaroo Court, Indeed
In an interview with The Dartmouth, alumni-elected trustee T.J. Rodgers ‘70 explained his reasons for declining to participate in future evaluations of trustees up for “re-election,” namely the “kangaroo court” nature of such discussion in…