Anger for me has always been a temporary thing, something I could never sustain. No matter how angry I was at someone, no matter what the reason, after a day or so the tide would ebb and I would find myself ready to talk out the problem. Even if I didn’t really want to stop being angry, I just couldn’t keep it up.
September 11 changed that. Over the last two months, I have discovered that I am capable of sustained rage. Oh, it begins to ease off after a while, but then I encounter something like this memorial video that reminds me of exactly what it is that I’m enraged about. Or I read a report like this one, describing the numerous Muslims living in Britain who support bin Laden and even think the World Trade Center attacks were justified. And suddenly I’m redlining the rage meter again.
My father was born in 1932, so he grew up during the Great Depression and World War II. He doesn’t tend to talk much about that part of his life, but at one point he recalled a memory from his youth that has stayed with me ever since. He was mowing the lawn, he said, and as he did so he imagined that the stalks of grass that he was cutting down were Japanese soldiers. When I first heard that, it seemed sad and quaint, like a remnant of a different age. It was certainly understandable that a child growing up during wartime could fantasize about something so violent, but I could never imagine myself doing that.
Today I took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather to mow my lawn. As I pushed the mower, I thought back on the poll of British Muslims . . and before my eyes, the grass turned into Taliban soldiers and Islamic fundamentalists. I don’t know which is more depressing — that I’m back in the same place where my father was six decades ago, or that at the age of 41, I’m feeling what he felt when he was ten years old.
This isn’t going to go away, is it? The war against terrorism will last for years, perhaps even decades. And this emotion, this white-hot, chest-constricting, blinding sensation of impotent fury, is going to be with me for all that time. For the duration, as people used to say when my father was a kid. It’s just something I’m going to have to learn to live with . . . tucked away in a corner of my mind, but never forgotten.
The person I was on September 10 could never have conceived of this emotion. But he’s gone. And that, too, is something to be angry about.

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