My turn: Living in the age of ignorance

There have been many times in my life that I have experienced periods of ignorance. Not knowing what is going on or what will be the res...



There have been many times in my life that I have experienced periods of ignorance. Not knowing what is going on or what will be the result of not knowing. Everything I think about in those moments is some kind of fiction, a way I try to tone down what feels unknowable to me at the time.

Today we live in a time of deep uncertainty. The poisoned political polarity, the unconstitutional campaign to deny the right to vote, the rise of far-right extremism in America, the impacts of the ongoing pandemic and the growing messages from Mother Earth that we are heading towards a environmental abyss all infect public health. We do not know what will happen to us, to our country or to the world. These questions, for the moment, are unanswered. We all live in not knowing to one extent or another… unless you are in denial.

As humans, we fear uncertainty more than anything else. We do not know not to know. We only feel comfortable and secure when we have the answers. The answers, even invented ones, make it possible to avoid living in ignorance.

For me, Saturday September 11, 2001 was my first major encounter with a real life in limbo, not knowing what was going on and how it would all end.

Right after his father and grandmother took 2-year-old Trager to the roof of SoHo’s tallest building to get a better look at what was going on, they saw the second plane hit. His father, my son Chris, a videographer with a day off to shoot music videos, and my ex-wife, artist Lindsay, and our first grandson watched the clouds of smoke rise from the World Trade Center about 20 blocks southwest of their SoHo loft. .

At that point, with no understanding of why it wasn’t one, but two planes that crashed into the iconic Twin Towers towering over the lower Manhattan skyline. Chris and his mom did two things. Chris grabbed his video camera and walked over to the crash site to capture the fear and frenzy that pulsed all around him on the ash-strewn streets. Lindsay did what she always did; she took a photograph of what was in front of her, images that would end up on her canvases.

Two-year-old on September 11, Trager had no way of knowing what he was watching. Two of four planes that terrorists had requisitioned as part of a suicide mission to bring down four of America’s iconic buildings, the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the White House. They succeeded with the twin towers. Trager, now 22, knows the story of the events of that Saturday in 2001, but has no memory of that moment in time.

I learned later that we got off easily. The enormity of what could have happened if Osama bin Laden had fully carried out his plans was reported in The New York Times on June 16, 2014. only a small portion of the terrorist visions that provided for the use of 10 hijacked planes to attack targets on the east and west coasts, including the United States Capitol and the White House, according to staff of the independent commission investigating 9/11.

My most palpable, sometimes recurring memory of 9/11 was fear for my family. Not knowing where Chris and his wife Johanna, pregnant with their expected second son in 2002, Trager and Lindsay were… and if they were okay. I don’t remember who called me in Shelburne Falls to say “turn on your TV”. But I did and immediately called my sister, Winnie in Greenfield and told her to “turn on your TV; there was a plane crash in New York. Today she remembers thinking “Oh John is so melodramatic!” But she turned on her television and immediately tried calling her daughter Velvet who lived on the Lower East Side in Manhattan.

Between watching those heartbreaking reruns of planes hitting the Twin Towers and calling Winnie and my brothers Pete in Boston and Chuck in Leesburg, Virginia, I kept calling and calling and calling Chris and Lindsay… to no avail. All telephone lines were cut. When Chris was finally able to reach me about five hours later, I cried. Whenever memories of 9/11 creep their way into my consciousness, I feel a surge of gratitude for still having my family.

John Bos is a contributing writer for Green Energy Times and editor of a new children’s book “After the Race”.



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My turn: Living in the age of ignorance
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