What Can I Say?

    “Jesus wept.” –John 11:35

    “What we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence.” –Ludwig Wittgenstein

This week we have experienced something for which silence seems to be the only appropriate analogy. Words do nothing to alleviate grief. Now is the time to be close to the ones you love. Our comfort comes when we are in each other’s presence, feeling what we are feeling and doing it together, even if it is in silence.

Anger, horror, and shock are all working in our hearts, causing thoughts and feelings many of us have never had before.

My best friend was in the World Trade Center on Tuesday, late for work, coming out of Cortland St. Station when the first plane hit. Hours went by, without word, as Dante-esque images burned their way into my frontal lobes. The kind of horror that even the most calloused marketer can’t bring himself to recount. The relief felt when my friend’s mother called to say she’d heard from him cannot be described, though I know there are those of you out there who know what I’m talking about.

Another acquaintance was not so lucky; his wife was one of the passengers on board the flight from Newark, NJ, bound for San Francisco. Audiences were able to cathartically express their own fears and suffering through his as they watched him recount her cell-phone call from the plane.

Countless thousands of stories like this are shared across the continent and across the oceans.

And in the midst of all this horror, so many Americans, and particularly New Yorkers, have come together in ways that would have seemed to belong to a candy-eyed fantasy just a week before. New York City civil servants have become heroes on par with those of what Tom Brokaw has called the Greatest Generation.

I don’t think I will ever be able to look at another firefighter without shedding the hottest tears of gratitude and feeling an overwhelming urge to hug him or her.

Though I cannot in any way begin to predict in what ways this event will effect the media business other than as it relates to the macroeconomic impact of what happened, I can say that as human beings we will never be the same again.

Perhaps planners and buyers will be just a little kinder to media vendors when they call.

Perhaps vendors won’t be quite as upset if a media planner or buyer doesn’t buy what they have to sell.

Perhaps clients will not treat their agencies so ruthlessly if a certain deadline isn’t met or a creative product isn’t exactly what they expected.

Perhaps all of us will practice just a bit more public civility and be a bit more compassionate when dealing with each other on a daily basis.

Perhaps our priorities will be reorganized to make a little more room for long-term human relationships and less for short-term gains at the bottom line.

Maybe, just maybe, the next time we complain that cost per thousands (CPMs) are too high or too low or that our boss is a dragon or that we don’t get enough acknowledgement for the work we do, we will remember that thousands of people will wake up this morning without parents or children or friends or family and wish to God that they had only CPMs or bosses to complain about.

I offer you all my deepest feelings of sorrow, hope, and love as a human being.

“Death is not an event in life: We do not live to experience death. If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present. Our life has no end in just the way in which our visual field has no limits.” –Ludwig Wittgenstein

Editor’s note: For more on the impact of the September 11 attack, check the special section of internet.com’s E-Commerce/Marketing Channel, The Trade Center Disaster: Industry Response.

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