I don’t mind it too much. When the Twin Towers fell, I was ready to donate money to every relief agency this side of Oklahoma City. I even wanted to give money to the CIA, in order to help increase the chances that they’d catch the culprits, James-Bond style, and dispatch them with a bullet.
But all that emotion began to wear on me after a few weeks, and I calmed down.
My emotions tend to be like Marilyn Monroe‘s career: short, intense, and fleeting. After I get a hold of them, I don’t like to unleash them again unnecessarily.
But it would appear I’m in the minority.
Consider the NFL.
They cancelled their games the weekend after 9/11/2001. That was fine and an honest judgment call. They played the following weekend, but they delayed the kickoff for prolonged 9/11 commemorations. Of course, they didn’t tell everyone they’d be doing this. They advertised the 1:00 (EDT) kick-off, then promptly ignored it.
And then came 2002. What did they do? The same thing. They delayed the season’s opening kickoff with more 9/11 commemorations.
I don’t remember the MLB, NBA, or NHL doing anything like that (though I believe the MLB held ceremonies before the 2001 playoffs).
What was the NFL’s point?
They care more than everyone else? They need to show everyone how much they care and foist their care on us?
They can care all they want. Just keep it in their office and out of my living room.
But again, I suspect I’m in the minority in this.
Shortly after 9/11, my parish ran that touching, if sickly sentimental, “This is God talking about 9/11” audio. I’m sure you know the one. It’s where God says “I was with you when you dialed your wife to say, ‘I love you.’” A real tear jerker, intentionally so, but the message (God’s omnipotence and omniscience) is good, and, even better, accessible to anyone with a third grade Sunday School education.
But then they played it on New Year's Eve, at the Mass of Holy Mary, Mother of God. It’s a Holy Day of Obligation.
I was annoyed. It delayed my New Year's Eve festivities by 10 minutes, but no big deal.
And then they played it again on the same Holy Day in 2002.
And again in 2003.
Now I was losing my mind. Apparently, someone thought the audio is one of greatest things they ever heard, so they made the decision that the rest of us should hear it… four times.
Which is fine, if done properly. If you think it’s so great, make a general announcement: “After Mass, we’re gonna listen to that melodramatic ’This is God talking about 9/11’ audio.’ Feel free to stick around and cry with us.”
But they didn’t do that. Instead, they fired it up before the final blessing. Which is, of course, before a good Catholic feels comfortable leaving an obligatory Mass.
They, in other words, took advantage of a captive audience, like the NFL foisting their feel-good 9/11ism on us at 1:00PM, when we’re all poised for kick-off. They know they “got us,” so they shovel “it” (you define “it”) on us.
Such coercion is not, to be blunt, cool. If you don’t like this column, link away. If you don’t like a TV show, click away. This is America, where not everyone is going to share your emotions or your need to cry in public.
But as near as I can tell, there are some people who are so cocksure about their emotional state, that they think the rest of us must share it. And it’s not just a 9/11 thing. It happens all the time. I can’t fathom the forced community emotionalism that will come in the wake of Katrina.
I’m not prepared to say who these people are, but I’d respectfully suggest that they take a hard look at their emotionalism.
Emotions, after all, are always suspect. Not bad, like the Stoics taught. Just suspect. They often cloud our ability to reason and to see things objectively. They often lead to passion, which is always a bad thing. “Passion is an excessive appetite exceeding the measures of reason, or appetite unbridled and disobedient to the Word” (Clement of Alexandria).
With good reason, emotions are often considered the bridge to sin.
Everyone ought to remember that before wearing their emotions on their sleeves and forcing them on the rest of us, no matter how beautiful they think their tears.
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