That’s where I need to be on the next anniversary, September 11, 2020.
It’s really borderline unforgiveable that I haven’t made the trip in the past 18 years, especially considering that I’ve been an activist for the 9/11 Truth movement since 2010 and that there isn’t a day that goes by when that tragedy doesn’t still haunt me as I do my part to expose the lie of what we were told happened that day.
But 9/11 Truth is not the topic.
I haven’t gone to Ground Zero because going anywhere outside of my established routine parameter is extremely difficult for me, and the further the destination, the more unfamiliar the journey, the less I feel capable of handling the trip. It’s simplistic to refer to it as agoraphobia because it’s so much more complex than that, but it’s difficult to put into words a fear you’ve had for so long you can’t even imagine a life without it.
For a long time, it was my guarded secret, shared with only a trusted inner circle. And don’t get me wrong – I’m not opening up about this under the pretense of “If I can help just one person”. This is a purely selfish act. A way for me to start getting past this demon that has handicapped me forever – by exposing it.
I can go weeks without giving it much thought when my daily movements remain confined to my regular surroundings. But there are no guarantees, and I’ve had unexpected attacks sneak up on me even then, like on my drive to work when we hit a sudden standstill on the autoroute, with no exit ramp in sight. Longer drives – as in more than an hour – come with more apprehension and require a lot of mental prep, while anything that involves additional vehicles or layovers becomes exponentially challenging. As fate would have it, my mother lives in Austria, so there’s a trip I look forward to regularly. It is usually preceded by psychological nausea and an inability to ingest much of anything for days prior. As far as a diet plan, it has real potential – schedule regular trips with varying degrees of difficulty and I should be at my model-size weight in no time at all.
And it usually ends up fine, as my track record for making it through each situation currently stands at 100%. But to me, that’s irrelevant. I’d like to be able to not even think about it. White-knuckling it, in my view, doesn’t count for much. Having dodged an actual panic attack is nothing to write home about if I spent 3 days worrying about the trip and another 12 hours during it.
And let’s quickly define panic attack. You can imagine it, right? Shaking, becoming agitated, sweating, crying, gasping for air, possibly physically lashing out, right?
Well, it’s nothing like that. At least not on the outside. Or at least not for me. From your vantage point, you probably couldn’t even tell.
Inside, it’s a different world. An implosion more than an explosion. Paralysis. I start physically shutting down my senses and disconnecting from all my surroundings. Even if I’m at the wheel, I have to retreat into a space where I can’t be reached. I have to NOT be in that moment. I feel so vulnerable that I feel aggressed by every scent, every sound, every sensation. I can’t breathe, my heart is beating to my ears, and the odd tear you see is not actual crying, but rather the result of the overwhelming physical pressure exerted by the fear. Fear of being trapped. Of not being able to get out. Of losing control. Of somehow not making it to the destination. It’s not rational. I didn’t say it was. It never is.
And ultimately fear of being judged. The funny thing is I have no other fears, really, in terms of judgment. I have strong opinions and am not afraid to stand up for them. I have critical views and always welcome anyone willing to challenge them. I feel strongly and I love deeply, and I express my love, my affection and my passion with little worry of how it will be received. I have odd interests and unconventional ways of doing things, and I make no apologies for any of them.
I also have many shortcomings which I fully embrace. I feel no particular need to be right, or be liked, or to get some kind of weird stamp of approval. If you’re in my life, I trust it’s for all the good reasons.
But this - it’s just in another realm.
I’ve often wondered why it is even spoken of in terms of “mental” affliction when fear is so intensely emotional. Never quite got that.
On the positive side, I haven’t let this anxiety prevent me from doing those things that truly mattered – visiting family and friends, going to concerts, spending a summer day at the water slides or our Six Flags park (hail the roller coaster as therapy in and of itself). I always bring along my figurative crutches and safety nets. At a concert, I’m close to an exit. In a movie theatre, or on a plane, I’ll always secure the aisle seat. I scan any new place as if I were the Terminator, robotically assessing potential hazards and exit strategies. It gives me the illusion of security.
So I try to not let it rule my life. But I’m sure it has stopped me from doing things I wrote off as unimportant, and in so doing missed out on some unexpected good times, or discoveries, or new connections. And although it has also led me to love being alone – nothing like being a 17-year old at home on a Saturday night, writing songs, or letters, or in her diary (yup! still have 'em!) while all your friends are partying – I know it came at a price.
But I’m tired. I don’t want to put stuff on standby anymore and justify it by insisting it’s not that necessary, or essential, or worth it. Life is short.
Therefore, Ground Zero it is.
I have no idea how I will get there yet as the logistics still need to be determined. In a perfect world I would do this with someone I fully trust to handle a meltdown, should it occur. Someone who has my back, no matter what happens. Someone who makes me feel like it’s ok if we need to make a 180 back home four hours into the drive. That kind of trust.
But I’m also not taking THAT trip, out of all trips, with someone who is not at least as passionate about 9/11 Truth as I am, and the Venn diagram of people who intersect has nobody I know in that center. So I guess I’m going it alone, which is just as well.
2020. This is the year everything changes. And sticking my head out of the anxiety closet, even just partway, is a pretty good start.
Tears of rage - that’s what I remember the most about my reaction to an article in my local paper written by Dr. Joe Schwarcz, a chemist with a weekly column related to his field.
This one, back in May of 2016, was about nanothermite. I don’t usually read his column because my interest in all things chemical is roughly the equivalent to that of watching a documentary on the finer techniques of needlepoint, but the title caught my eye immediately. Having been a 9/11 Truth advocate for years, I knew that nanothermite was an element that had been found in the WTC dust following the collapses of the 3 WTC buildings, and that the only explanation for this was that the buildings had to have been detonated – something that would call into question the entire official theory.
I didn’t think that the author would actually go there, seeing that this article was all about the science – but then, at the very end, he did, and wrote the following:
“Conspiracy theorists purport that it was thermite explosives planted inside the World Trade Center that brought down the twin towers in a CIA coordinated plot. They also maintain that the moon landing was faked and that the U.S. government is hiding the bodies of aliens. Some also claim that the rise of Donald Trump was engineered by a Democratic conspiracy and that on the verge of being elected he will announce “fooled you.” Wouldn’t that be something? It would trump the thermite reaction for heat generated.”
I actually gasped. I expected – maybe – a calling into question of the very fact that nanothermite had even been found. Or of how nanothermite behaves, in practice. Or that it is near impossible to get one’s hands on this substance. But I couldn’t believe the so very un-scientific attack by a supposed professional on a theory so very rooted in physics, and in that moment felt both the anger, and the tears, rising.
And so I did what I do best when I need to deal with something before it consumes me, and I wrote - to the editorial board of the Montreal Gazette, while cc’ing Dr. Schwarcz.
The Gazette never responded.
But he did.
The following is our word for word exchange - and a true reflection of how the scientific community is the one that doesn’t have a leg to stand when faced with the otherwise unchallenged laws of physics that it suddenly cannot seem to acknowledge. It’s the story of a truther’s life, and a perfect example of what we deal with on a regular basis.
From: Sandra J
Sent: Monday, May 23, 2016
Cc: Joe Schwarcz, Dr.
Subject: Dr Schwarcz’ column, May 21, 2016, “The Power of Heat”
Rather than availing himself of the scientific method to answer a scientific question - or at least provide an answer that is based on facts and research - Dr Schwarcz resorts to the idiot's guide to reasoning - logical fallacies. Put forth a theory, use ad hominem attacks by denigrating an entire group of people (which may or may not already be seen unfavourably by the general public), make sweeping yet completely unfounded generalizations about said group, and throw in a random association that is neither here nor there and that has even less to do with the initial theory at hand.
And yet, the scientific evidence contradicting the official narrative in the collapse of the three WTC towers (1, 2 and 7) is overwhelming. As a true chemist, Dr. Schwarcz would know that infrared images of the fires would have shown temperatures as high as 2800 F degrees, as confirmed by MTI, EarthData and NASA, while jet fuel only burns to 1400. He would know about the molten steel flowing like lava – another occurrence impossible to explain by regular office fires (even if originally triggered by fuel). He would know that microspheres formed from molten iron were found in the dust by USGS, the EPA, RJ Lee Group and independent scientists.
And I’m quite certain that despite a doctorate in chemistry, Dr Schwarcz has retained sufficient knowledge of high school physics to remember that objects cannot fall to the ground at freefall or near freefall speed while going through the path of greatest resistance – 11 seconds for Towers 1 and 2, and all of 7 seconds for WTC 7, a 47-story high rise a couple of football fields away. Even NIST (the National Institute of Standards and Technology) has admitted to free fall acceleration. This is only possible if the falling towers encountered NO resistance on the way down, and last I checked, I believe there were hundreds and thousands of tons of cold, hard and solid steel and concrete supporting the 100 or so floors below. Other steel-framed high rises have burned much longer in the past and yet, the core structure remained. And never before in the history of high rise fires has a building completely collapsed, and yet, on 9/11, three of them did just that – while one of them was never hit by a plane, which in itself does away with any jet-fuel theory to explain the collapses. Controlled demolition is the only explanation, aided and abetted by the use of thermite and nanothermite – substances, as Dr Schwarcz correctly points out, that are highly difficult to come by, and certainly not fabricated in a cave in Afghanistan.
There is a reason why over 2,500 architects, engineers and scientists around the world have signed a petition demanding a new investigation into the collapses of the 3 WTC towers on Sept 11th via the group Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth. They have put their careers on the line because they have done their research and are looking not for the comfortable answer, but the true one.
Over the years, Dr Schwarz has been a relentless advocate for the scientific method, making fun of anyone not abiding by those rules. The tables are turned. All this goes to show that in the face of an uncomfortable truth, even Dr Schwarcz is capable of denial, lack of reasoning and emotionally lashing out. I guess the scientific method is only valid when it’s convenient.
So when it comes down to it, Mr Schwarcz, you are nothing but a fraud, a coward, and a disgrace to the scientific community.
“Condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance.” (Albert Einstein)
On Mon, May 23, 2016 at 8:30 PM, Joe Schwarcz, Dr. wrote:
Wow! People like you actually exist! scary.
Joe Schwarcz PhD
Director, McGill University Office for Science and Society
801 Sherbrooke St. West
Montreal, QC, Canada, H3A 0B8
SJ Not only do we exist, we work and have worked (as in my case) for the very newspaper that your column appears in, some of us (not myself) as reporters and even editors.
I was very angry when I wrote. I still am, really, even if solely for the double standard that you applied in your rebuttal, doing the very thing you would never tolerate from someone else. You usually reply with facts. You cannot say with a straight face that that's what you did in that column.
I apologize for the sarcasm, but not for speaking up where I thought - and still think - you were clearly out of line.
JS Sorry…but any claims that the towers were brought down by anything else than the impact of the airplanes just cannot be taken seriously. Surely you have read the official investigations and their conclusions. You can start here:
SJ I've been reading for 6 years...
If the towers' collapse was justified by the impact of the planes, then what comes of WTC 7, which was never touched? A steel-framed high-rise of 47 floors - same height as Place Ville-Marie - down in 7 seconds flat, at 5:20 that afternoon. NIST blames it on "normal office fires" Now that's scary to me.
You can observe the entire collapse, beginning to end, in a 9-second video:
WTC 7 Collapse
What do you see, with your own eyes?
JS Please list for me the courses you have taken in chemistry, materials science, physics or engineering.
SJ My degrees don't trump the laws of physics.
JS Exactly. Now you know how that building came down.
In this sudden recreation of Bizarro World, it appeared that the one presenting the hard facts, the evidence and the logical conclusions was not the scientist, but the layperson, while the one being evasive, condescending and incapable of offering a convincing rebuttal was not the conspiracy theorist, but the one with the PhD.
I never replied, and I didn’t need to. I had won the argument, whether he admitted it or not. My tears of rage had dissipated and made room for the knowledge that I could hold my ground against any scientist choosing to live in denial - and therefore betrayal - of the very basic laws of physics that had stood the test of time.
And that gave me the ammunition, and the courage, to keep fighting for the truth, no matter who my adversary may be – a fight I will never give up, for as long as I live. I owe it to the 3,000 people who died that day and have yet to see justice done.
Sandra is a blogger, life coach and activist.
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