Six words have entered into virtually every conversation in our country: in the aftermath of September 11. This mantra puts into context our sense of unease about how things (might) have changed.
I have come to distrust the staying power of my reactions to the national tragedy. They have been much like the bereavement process – shifting and evolving in ways hard to fully anticipate.
Trends, on the other hand, are important to heed, for they help us gauge the mood of the people. And here are two trends reported from many quarters in the Jewish community.
My friends and colleagues are reporting more and more conversations about videotapes and DVDs. Together with dropping gasoline prices and diminished box office receipts, it seems that we (like much of America) are staying home. I don’t attribute this cocooning to fear, as much as to an appreciation of the importance of home life as a source of strength and comfort.
The second phenomenon deals with security. Our experience at Agudas Achim is mirrored across the nation – people are clamoring for armed guards at synagogues and pre-schools. The desire is not rational – an off-duty officer will not ward off airplanes or anthrax with a side-arm, neither will a responsible officer display or discharge a gun in a crowd of children or worshippers. But the desire is understandable – we need a symbol of authority and protection to reassure ourselves.
Will these two trends have staying power in the aftermath of September 11? I hope they will recede in prominence, but leave their marks. Blockbuster and bullets could be replaced by a baseball metaphor: safe at home.