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The Slow Crawl Back to Normalcy

By Keith Regan
Sep 13, 2001 4:26 PM PT

The gaping hole in the New York City skyline is proof that America is forever changed. And that scar is a symbol of what all Americans are feeling. It will be impossible to get back to where we were before September 11, 2001. To try would be foolish.

The Slow Crawl Back to Normalcy

Suddenly, important things that seemed to matter so much at one point are no longer important. We have been reminded about what really counts in life.

And as the shock begins to wear off and the true ramifications are felt, the Internet and e-commerce has proven that it, too, understands.

For example, Internet auctioneer eBay acted quickly to ban sales of items that could have deepened the pain of the victims' families. And Amazon.com gave nearly its entire front page over to a Red Cross disaster relief ad that connected visitors to a donation hotline where they could give funds via credit card.

Even X10.com -- whose Web-wide pop up ad has appeared on nearly everyone's computer screens at some point -- used its co-opted browser space for the common good. It is listing links for donating cash and blood.

Business As Usual

Other sites decided to ignore the disaster. And I don't blame them, frankly. No one, especially those people who get their information online and conduct e-commerce, has avoided hearing the terrible details over and over.

Of course, the terrorist attacks are an economic disaster. It's a fact, albeit a cold, hard one. Confidence in anything, let alone economic growth, has been rattled to the core.

At some point, it will be time to move on. But judging when that time is right will not be an easy task.

What Matters

Just hours after the worst attack on American soil since and possibly including Pearl Harbor, U.S. President George W. Bush told the world that the American economy would still be open for business.

Yet doing business seems like such a small thing now. A few hours of sheer terror and lingering fears about the health and safety of our children, and ourselves, have reminded us of that.

Still, while returning to normal is no small feat, it is essential. The greatest weapon of terrorists is fear. Their tactics are designed to force Americans to alter their daily lives, to stop doing the things that makes America the great global presence that it is.

In other words, if we retreat too much, we hand the terrorists a double victory.

Time of Need

How we react in crisis has always defined Americans. This crisis will be no different. We will all be asked, and we all must be willing, to do our part.

And I believe we are ready. Ready to help the victims. Ready to rebuild. Ready to contemplate the fact that to prevent this nightmare from happening again, the tradeoff between our freedoms and our safety has to be re-examined.

Yes, some of us can donate blood or money to good causes. But only so many of us can go to New York to help move the rubble and comfort the victims' families. New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, in fact, said the city already has enough volunteers.

For most of us, the best thing we can do is start moving forward.

We will do so slowly. We will do so with heavy hearts. The horror of the tragedies in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania -- indeed across the nation -- has only begun. The human stories that will be told in coming days will in some ways be more harrowing than the images of skyscrapers thought to be invincible crumbling to the ground.

But we must move forward.

What do you think? Let's talk about it.

Note: The opinions expressed by our columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the E-Commerce Times or its management.

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