Is there a word to describe 9/11?  NPR is attempting to find if a single word can describe then and now.  With the use of listener interactive polling that was not available a decade ago, they are tapping into the emotions people felt at 9/11 and are feeling today.  Everyone is invited to be part of the project.

Experiences are fundamentally emotional.  We sense them at that level and when the emotions are strong, the memories are seared into us.  Time stops.  Ask a pre-Boomer where they were when they heard about Pearl Harbor.  Ask a Boomer where they were when Kennedy was assassinated.  Ask a Gen X’er where they were when the Challenger blew up.  Ask a Gen Y where they were when the Trade Towers fell.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1526/1530–1569) via Wikimedia Commons

Centuries ago there are stories of parents cuffing the heads of their young children when royalty passed through the village in order that the memory of the King would be retained.  It was probably unnecessary.  We sense these events at our very core.  They shape us.

We are living in an economy that is increasingly experienced-based.  Experiences have always been with us, but now we are purposely staging them.  Most of them are pretty routine and mundane, but occasionally. like 9/11, a group purposely stages an experience on a scale that we recognize the power of experiences for both good and evil.

Join in the One Word Challenge.