9/11 and the pandemic: A united and divided society

9/11 unified the nation, COVID has divided it

For New Yorkers who lived through the terroir attacks nearly two decades ago, every anniversary of 9-11 is a time of reflection.

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But this one — at least for me — is one that deserves special attention.

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Here are some thoughts:

9/11 was tragic and brutal. It hit home to me because my old man help build the Twin Towers, and when I was a kid, he took me to see the nearly completed version. Years later, as a senior writer at the Wall Street Journal, it became another touchstone: I worked across the street; my gym was in the Trade Center, my professional life enveloped downtown Manhattan and then it was destroyed-- taking nearly 3,000 lives in the process and injuring thousands more in lower Manhattan, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pa.

A doctor's appointment saved me from being at Ground Zero when the planes hit--but I was just a few blocks north and lived in the East Village. I vividly recall the awful smell of burnt wiring and dust that permeated the air as far north as the Upper East Side for weeks, not to mention the roar of what sounded like F-15's circling Manhattan in the moments following the attack.

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Yes, it was brutal, and costly in terms of lives and sickness well after the event. And yet, oddly, it was somehow better than what we are facing now. We were unified. The tragedy brought New York and the country together. The pandemic has done the opposite.

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We have been reduced to warring factions.

Most of us express our outrage at everything on our keyboards. Others take to the streets. We're united in our disunity. You can blame President Trump's divisive nature. Or you can blame Mayor de Blasio for disarming and defunding police when we need order the most. Or even Governor Cuomo for letting the feckless mayor get away with it. Or, maybe, we should blame ourselves for not rising to the occasion, for not pointing out that while police need to treat every American with respect, that fixing policing does not mean we need a revolution that weakens law enforcement’s reach and threatens the day-to-day normal lives we all to want to lead.

Yes, we needed to "flatten the curve" of the virus, but that does not mean we need to stop life in its tracks, destroy livelihoods and kill an economy that, when functioning, will produce a vaccine and a treatment for a deadly disease.

Maybe we also need to stop arguing--in the streets, and on social media--and start talking responsibly about solutions. One more thing: let’s also ignore -- not cancel but ignore--those who believe it is time to blow up the system who exist on both the right and left sides of the policy debate.

Maybe we also need to stop arguing -- in the streets, and on social media -- and start talking responsibly about solutions. One more thing: let’s also ignore -- not cancel but ignore -- those who believe it is time to blow up the system. They exist on both the right and left sides of the policy debate.

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