I liked This American Life‘s approach to the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Instead of focusing on the day itself, they interviewed people affected in different ways by 9/11 who’ve appeared on the show at various points in the past ten years, and talked to them about how the world has changed, and where we are now.
I have enormous gratitude to This American Life for understanding and allowing me my complicated, messy, self-critical understanding of what it means to be American in the world. The folks there understand that being deeply ashamed of your country and furious with your government never precludes loving your country fiercely, or grieving for those whose lives have been torn apart. They get the difference between governments and individuals, between armies and soldiers. And they get that there are many different ways of being heartbroken.
I guess I’m trying to say that I love this radio show because it allows things to be confusing, contradictory, and inexpressible. It doesn’t force things into a false neatness just so we can all understand and feel good about ourselves. I wish there were more places in life where it was okay to be like that. And I’m grateful that TAL was there to help me process my feelings today.
If you’d like to listen to their tenth anniversary show, the options for doing so are here. I probably don’t have to tell you this, but before you pop off glibly to listen to it before your lunch meeting with your boss or your algebra test or whatever, do remember that it’s really, really sad.
To my readers in Australia: I notice that Ira Glass, the host of the show, will be in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne this January.