Like a garment of many colors, the memory of September 11 changes hue with each different glance. And it will continue to do so because what we are looking at is not an event, which happened once, but at ourselves, which changes with the passing years. Memory includes us; it is the record of the various phases its participants went through; their hopes and disappointments, their fears and relief; it is a narrative of all the changes undergone since that day. Great events define history not only through their direct effects but in the manner they change the way people think. Osama bin Laden was the anti-Columbus, the shriveler of the world and vanquisher of new beginnings; the dark prophet who showed the oceans an illusion; who proved that there was no escape from ancient hatreds; the celebrant of those faceless idols who will not allow themselves to be forgotten.
The shadow of September 11 will mar man’s dreams until the day when we regain our boldness and set foot on other worlds; when humanity can once again distance the old evils, if only for a moment, carrying only such malignancies as are left dormant in their hearts. In all likelihood it will only be for a moment, because man pursues man with the hunger of a demon. Half the human race seeks something to love and the remainder seeks them as something to rule. The men who rushed up the stairs were our better angels; and their day is done. Not so us. We have miles to go before we sleep.