I have been a writer for nearly 20 years. During that time, I’ve rarely found myself at a loss for words.
But tragedy has a strange way of creating an eerie unpredictability, and finding the right words during this one has become a struggle.
Without question, the impact of last month’s terrorist attacks will be felt for a long time. The recovery process will also take a long time as our nation and its people band together to resume daily activities and get back to business as usual.
One of the most unique traits of Americans is our unbreakable spirit. It is why, in time, we will recover from this massive blow. Our economy — suddenly thrust back into a downward spiral — will rebound as well, although that may be a more difficult task.
So many brilliant business minds were lost in New York. So many businesses were affected directly and indirectly. So much about the economy remains uncertain, and Wall Street does not look favorably upon uncertainty.
The airline industry and its employees may be among the most significant nonfatal casualties of this attack. Air travel was suspended for several days. By the time it resumed, the damage was done.
More than 100,000 people in the airline industry are expected to lose their jobs. Even more could follow. And that does not include the layoffs that will surely come from the industry’s vendors and suppliers, as well as those in the travel and hospitality industries.
And let’s not forget the terrible beating the stock market took and how that affects consumer confidence.
All of this is evidence that in addition to the thousands of lives lost in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., the terrorists have succeeded in adversely affecting an already weakened U.S. economy.
In his first comments one week after the attack, Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve, predicted the economy faced a litany of short-term problems. But he was bullish as well — he also asserted that the long-term prospects are much brighter than many expect.
It’s tough to look that far ahead, especially considering the numbness that lingers. Nearly every American closes his or her eyes and sees the images of planes slamming into the World Trade Center, dozens of people falling to their deaths in a mist of smoke and metal, and the buildings crumbling to the ground. Those are strong images that won’t simply fade away.
But time is a precious and powerful commodity. As life goes on, getting back to business as usual will become easier and easier. For now, though, business is anything but usual. All of us have gained a far better understanding of how violent the world truly is and have put much of our daily activities and interests into a clearer perspective.
As journalists, we are taught to be objective and unemotional when covering events. It’s not always that simple when you must write about a subject of which you care. And when you consider the scale of this tragedy, and all the lives around the world that it impacts, being objective becomes that much more of difficult.
After all, we journalists are only human. And while we may be people of words, those words don’t always come easy. No matter how seamless it looks to our readers.
Dustin Klein is editor of SBN Magazine.