From Vibrancy to Fatalism

It had been 22 years between my visits to New York when I arrived there in the fall of 2010. I had come to town for multiple reasons: to visit with my longtime friend, a resident of that great metropolis since the 70s; to assist with a ministry; and to gather up-to-date background for my forthcoming book, Blood Barons.

The effervescence that had pulsed up and down the arterials stretching the length and breadth of Manhattan in 1988 was noticeably absent this time around. The weather was beautiful for October… sunshine, soft breezes and the trees in Central Park just beginning to take on that hint of fall color. Strolling through the streets, enjoying a break at a sidewalk café here and there, I was able to compare the snippets of idle conversation that drifted past to what I had heard years past. The tone had changed dramatically.

I’m not certain if New Yorkers realize any difference that time and one particular event has done to alter the energy pervading their city, but it was palpable to me, an outsider. Years earlier, a snowfall had swamped the streets just before we’d flown into town. It was still awash with vitality as people rushed about their business, avoiding the mounds of snow piled by the corners. We spent the few days catching up with friends and family, taking in a couple of Broadway shows and doing the usual tourist thing.

This time, the air of expectancy and dynamism was missing. The friendly banter overheard told more about stress-laden lives, employment woes, relationship strains and, well, melancholy. One of the women in our ministry group had grown up in the city and I put the question plainly, “What happened?”

Nine eleven,” was her answer. She told me how that day had virtually changed the underlying temperament. There had been a shock of violation as the dust from the twin towers’ collapse permeated the air. She did tell me how people quickly relied more on each other for support and bucked up to do what needed to be done. Jumping back into the fray as the economy came back to life with a roar, people worked with a renewed drive, but in many ways, New York, and the rest of the country, still hadn’t recovered to that previous level of vitality.

The installation of a new administration in the White House had brought a brief flicker of hope that was snuffed with a breath of wind, as the economy continued its nosedive. When I arrived in 2010, a sense of resignation lingered. The aftereffects of 9/11 left a mark of vulnerability that had yet to be erased.

The people of this great city had bonded after that brutal attack and those following attempts by sick individuals to recreate the horror, hoping to beat them into submission, only strengthened their core. But it has been tempered by the fatalism of the current administration constantly telling us that, not only could no one have brought us out of the economic slump, but we are stuck with it and the steady outpouring of wealth in a failed attempt to prolong the decline. With leadership like this, no wonder the New York malaise was so tangible to me and those with me.

The tale of 9/11 is one of camaraderie in hard times. It is not an acceptance of mediocrity, which is what the President has been pushing us, the citizens of this nation and especially the survivors of tragedy in New York, D.C. and Pennsylvania, the heroes of the day, to tolerate.

We can take hold of the faith and true hope that these, our neighbors, embodied, and throw off the pessimism that is preached from the Oval Office. There is too much at stake to allow a mindset of demise and frailty to be the legacy of 9/11. We are stronger and more confident than that, just as the populace of NYC was buoyant in going about their daily business in 1988. What’s changed? The people haven’t. The vision, or lack thereof, of America by our government has.

May we recall the courage that was demonstrated both on that day and each one following, taking heart that this nation, under God, is blessed as we institute real change and not transformation Obama-style.

A. Dru Kristenev

A. Dru Kristenev is a citizen of the great Northwest United States, former journalist and author of the Baron Series, novels of political intrigue, world markets and presumptive power brokers based on research of the underpinnings of real-time political and global financial maneuvering, and who’s instigating it.

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