Thursday, September 10, 2009

I do not have many worldly ambitions for my children, but high on that short list of goals is that they know what happened on 9/11 in precise, exact, dispassionate, historic detail. Times and places and names and occurrences. We know so much and we've promised to never forget.

Kenny wrote a few paragraphs on 9/11 tonight for homework. His teacher shared that she lost someone in the Towers that day. Her sadness set an emotional tone in Kenny. I told him the day from my perspective. Naturally I want him to have my perspective, over against his teacher's. This ought to be a family memory. Perhaps if Kenny had been at school that day I would feel differently.1 However, do the math: he was at home with me.

Quite.

Kenny's TV watching has given him a very strange idea of what happened on 9/11. I feel as if I have failed him in a very simple matter. Not knowing better, he skips over the actual events in order to talk in terms of debunking conspiracy theories. It's nonsense to debunk conspiracy theories without any knowledge of what events those theories attempt to decode.

I mean, before assimilating the proposed conspiracy theories and learning how to debunk them, it's necessary first to internalize what most of us think happened. After that's accomplished, there's no reason to be ignorant of the alternative narratives loonies propose or remain unaware of how the fiction falls short.

And, so, to that end, it seems to me that that his teacher lost someone helps Kenny acquire the foundational story. The story is grounded or rooted in her experience and sharing her experience gives Kenny - who has no memory of it - a way of entering the story. And my experience. And Jeff's experience. He catches it from us.

But it still might be a good idea to pop in a DVD that explains the whole disastrous day because, clearly, he learns by TV.



1 At public school one week and Kenny has already learned the word "lockdown," although not from actual experience, thankfully.