Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Can one building revive a nation?

I noticed something on my way to work this morning that I haven't seen for almost 10 years.

A tall structure has begun to emerge above the downtown Manhattan skyline. After years of what seemed like no progress, the Freedom Tower framework is rising quickly and I, for one, am pretty happy about it.

September 11, 2001 was an awful day for America. Looking back at the last 10 years, it is easy to make the correlation between this tragic event and the depression (emotional, not economic) that has hung like a cloud over us ever since.

We had never encountered anything like 9/11 before. So it's not surprising that it would rip apart our collective national psyche. Sure, we've put up a brave face, but it doesn't take a PhD to recognize the classical symptoms of depression.

Fear, anxiety, listlessness, distraction. A lack of direction. This has been our story for the last 10 years. The great recession merely brought these emotions to the surface. But they've been there for some time now.

So, when we struggle to come out of our current economic malaise, it is foolish to simply look for economic answers. There's something deeper happening here. And it can't be fixed by simply pumping up the money supply or giving folks a few tax breaks.

But, perhaps, it can fixed by a building.

Now, the Freedom Tower can never bring back the nearly 3,000 Americans we lost on that horrific day. It will never bring peace those who lost loved ones. And it will never erase the awful memories we all have burned into our subconscious.

But it can be a symbol of hope. A symbol that gives Americans permission to finally move on. It's okay for us to be exceptional again. It's okay for us to be passionate again. It's okay for us to dream again. If we don't, then the terrorists will have gotten exactly what they wanted.

Tomorrow morning, I will stare out at that rising mass of steel and try to imagine what the next 10 years can be for America. I invite you to join me.

It's time to be America again.

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