Last year, on observing the anniversary of the events of September 11, I noted that for a brief period of time after the attack, Americans were united by grief and determination. Even though the circumstances were unspeakably tragic, something good came of it: Americans put aside their differences, and experienced what that feels like.
On September 11, firefighters and police officers came to rescue us -- Americans, people that they'd never met -- and were willing to sacrifice their lives in the process. And many did.
A lot is said about Americans' belief in self-reliance. What gets overlooked is that Americans also rely on each other. It takes a lot of trust, but in time -- and not always as quickly as we'd like -- that trust is rewarded.
I was sitting in a secretary's office at the university where I was teaching at the time. A small crowd of us watched the television as the two towers burned. We were all silent. Courage; sacrifice; heroism; rectitude -- the words meant something again, if only for a moment.
In the years since then, our soldiers have been sent overseas to fight and die. Regimes have changed, but really, nothing has changed. The Commander in Chief is still engaged in sabre-rattling. Last month we learned that the banking industry generated a larger profit in the 2nd quarter of 2013 than any on record. We also learned that the salary of hourly workers suffered the greatest drop ever recorded.
When building are burning, the American people know what to do. But the slow-moving disasters do not provoke a response. The foundations of this country are slowly eroding, unseen. Many of the victims haven't the slightest inkling of the disaster that is gathering beneath their feet.