During that and this blackout, there was a feeling of unity that has escaped most other efforts to "bring us together," a slogan from a forgotten political campaign. Of course, 9/11 was a unique moment, which we hope will not be repeated, whatever positive side but dissipating benefits (there weren't many for the families of the victims).
A large clock outside the Renaissance Hotel froze at 4:14 p.m. The Jumbotron and other electronic advertising that have long been a part of Times Square went dark, as if a huge plug had been pulled or a large bill left unpaid.
Walking down 22 flights, eating a cold sandwich and limp salad for dinner and then climbing the same steps barely illuminated with eerie green glow sticks, I thought of the many in the world for whom cold food, a safe place to sleep and an indoor toilet would be a major upgrade.
Someone wrote that the outage drove us back to the 19th century. Is that necessarily bad? Then, it seemed more people talked to each other. Now, on the shuttle to New York from Washington, people are mostly buried in their newspapers during the flight and in their wireless contraptions after landing. Then, we mostly knew our neighbors. Now, we often move before we've met them.
The fictional Klaatu warned us. So have nonfiction writers, philosophers and religious leaders. But as Don McLean sang in "Starry, Starry Night": "They would not listen, they're not listening still, perhaps they never will."
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