Sunday, September 11, 2011

On a Day of Death, 9/11/01

One can say each phenomenon that occurred on September 11, 2001 had something to do with pride. Pride in one's religion, pride in one's cause, pride in one's abilities, pride in one's country. But the aforementioned statement gives us a paradox, does it not? Pride in one's religion, cause, and abilities all contributed to al-Qaeda committing such malevolent actions, but these prides additionally helped Americans survive the aftermath. Whether one was an innocent, Islamic American suddenly the victim of hate crimes or an acquaintance of another soul who went down with the towers, pride was the antidote to America's poison.      So where does it belong in the spectrum of emotions? A blessing? A sin?
     Markus Zusak's The Book Thief is narrated by Death, a voice who during this Second World War has much to say about the different qualities of human pride. In telling how young Liesel Meminger's newfound ability to read helps a bomb-shelter full of Germans and a fist-fighting Jew among others, Death depicts many characters whose lives are forever altered by pride. Liesel's foster brother, Hans, goes to war because of his strong belief in Hitler's message. Rudy, Liesel's best friend and lover, is forced to wallow in dung because of his resistance against a Hitler Youth leader (so glad our dean doesn't threaten us with that one.)  When Jews are being marched through Liesel's town, Hans Hubermann, Liesel's foster father, has enough pride in himself to help another struggling individual survive another heartbreaking hour, which gives birth to gargantuan consequences, of course.
     Death at times states that in the grand scheme of things, pride is really futile. Humans should take it upon themselves to insure their longest possible life instead of risking everything for what they believe is right. Hans would be better off without the scars of war he will surely receive, Rudy without the odor of Staten Island, and Hans Hubermann without the eventual recruitment into the LSE (a military division that retrieves corpses from bombsites.) Yet Death also states his admiration for Liesel and her resilience; through bomb threats, drafts, numerous deaths, near poverty, and the witnessing of true horrors, she remains alive to perish many years after WWII after an indisputably lived life. And how does Liesel survive Nazi Germany?
     Whether in her family, her friends, her words, or most imperatively herself, she maintains pride throughout her span of being-she believes that life must course through her so that actions for a  phenomenon worthy to her, a phenomenon much larger than herself, can be performed. So Death indeed honors the proud...
     Just so long as their pride is used to escape him.
     And what better way to let pride cause human survival than use it in activities that will save lives? Take pride in a cause that terrorists fail to comprehend-promoting human survival.

1 comment:

  1. Very thoughtful! The Book Thief is one of my favorite books.


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