Saturday, May 01, 2010

New York City Thoughts

I've been thinking about New York City and the 9/11/2001 attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon nine years ago.  Here is a holiday card that was sent out that year by the Park Slope Gallery.  

Today, nine years later, because of these attacks, we are enmeshed in two wars in the Middle East, with blood directly spilled in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan.  Our country is deeply divided over the conduct and execution of the war on our part.  In addition to the 3000+ lives lost in America that horrible day, we've lost nearly 5,500 US military lives not to mention an additional 1,000 coalition military lives as well as about 10,000 lives from the Iraqi security forces and almost 48,000 Iraqi civilian lives since 2005 (with low-bound estimates of about 22,000 reported Iraqi deaths for 2003 and 2004 including the invasion phase and higher civilian casualty estimates of about 425,000 to 800,000 for the period of March 2003 to June 2006).  In Afghanistan from 2001 to 2009, estimates are around 10,000 to 13,000 civilian lives lost and around 4,000 to 5,000 Afghan police and military lives lost.  And I am not even going into the numbers of people wounded but not killed.

The image from this peace rally in NYC's Union Square after the 9/11 attacks was taken and assembled by gallery director Phyllis Wrynn.  I am often moved, sometimes to the brink of tears, by the power of the image, the power of its timeless message.  Within a week of the tragedy and horror that gripped the city, our nation, and for a time, the world, somehow citizens of New York City came together amidst the roiling raw emotions of the time to call for not blood nor revenge, but for peace and justice.  I've thought of this image and Gandhi's quotation so many many times over the years since the attacks - so powerful, so important, and yet so easily forgotten, much to the peril of all of us who seek to make our world a better place.

My great thanks to Phyllis and The Park Slope Gallery for helping to dig up a copy of the original card for me several months ago!  And also: bonus image from NYC photographer George Forss.  Check out his Landmark Photos in the Park Slope Gallery store.

[ If I may indulge in a wee bit of intellectual masturbation:

The numbers represent a hell of a lot of blood from war deaths- if you assume 4.5 liters of blood in an adult, that would be over 120,000 gallons of blood (based on the low end of the number of deaths, and this doesn't count those who are wounded and do not die).  

The standard oil barrel is 42 gallons, so we're talking about 11,000 barrels of blood so far from these two wars minimum. Interesting fact: the estimated oil consumption for the US, EU and China combined is about 42 million barrels PER DAY.

This is a bullshit comparison, of course, I mean, how many natural deaths occur, and what's that blood volume?  Or volume of urine produced per day.  Etc etc etc.  Also, a huge problem with thinking of the Afghan war in terms of blood-for-oil is that Afghanistan itself doesn't have much in the way of petroleum fields.  On the other hand, one can (and I do) argue that much of the money that is/was funding al Qaeda at the time of the 9/11 attacks had its source in Saudi oil profits, as well as the wealth of the bin Laden family and its various industries, such as construction engineering. ]