D_Strom.jpg (8295 bytes)With the rapidity of change in modern life, it probably shouldn’t surprise us when we wake up to discover that the world is a new and different place. But I think it’s safe to say that nobody was prepared for the horrific images of September 11th. The terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center threw the U.S. into what can only be described as a new age. We will never again look at air travel and airports as simply upscale bus stops; we will never see huge buildings without those dreadful pictures of skyscrapers burning and falling. We’ve lost a good chunk of our innocence—or at least our naiveté—about these things.

From the standpoint of the hearing industry and hearing care field, it looks like we were relatively lucky. Few people with whom I’ve spoken had direct relatives and loved ones who perished in the disaster. However, true to the “six-degrees-of-separation” theory, which postulates that everyone on earth is tied to one another by seven or fewer acquaintances, we all know someone (often a friend of a friend) who has been devastated by the attack. Additionally, many of us have been fortunate enough to have experienced that wave of relief when we found out that this person, or that person, in New York or Washington was okay.

It’s strange that, living in a relatively small town in the Midwest, the attacks on the East Coast could have affected everyone and everything so much. Here in northern Minnesota, of all places, I awoke in a sudden panic just after midnight on September 12th when a local Air Guard jet whooshed over our city. I had to shake my head in embarrassment at my reaction. But my point is that I don’t think anyone was immune to effects of the attack or could avoid being shaken by what happened. In a weird way, the tragedy brought our country together and, at the same time, put it at a standstill.

While it may never again be “business as usual,” by the time you’re reading this, I would guess that things for most people are starting to get back to normal. For the hearing industry, there are a number of important autumn conventions that need the support of its members. The Academy of Dispensing Audiologists (ADA) meets in Asheville, NC, on October 21-25. In the wake of the attacks, the International Hearing Society (IHS) was forced to reschedule its 50th Anniversary Convention to November 7-11 at the Chicago Hyatt Regency on the Riverwalk. Phonak’s Second Annual Pediatric Audiology Conference will be held at virtually the same time (November 8-10) and place in Chicago. Additionally, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Assn. (ASHA) is holding its first-ever Audiology and Hearing Science Convention within its larger convention venue on November 15-17 in New Orleans (see p. 14).

Despite the nation’s setbacks, the world goes on and, in my opinion, we can’t let the actions of a few violent people stop us from moving forward. Just as we can’t let them make us bad neighbors to other people, to other countries, or make us forget our responsibility to make the world a better place. Perhaps, if there’s anything that we can take away from these horrific attacks, it’s that we’ve discovered that buildings can and do come crashing down, but it’s the bonds we forge while we’re living that provide real meaning as we all rent our precarious space on this little watery globe. So, as we roll through this autumn toward Thanksgiving, the staff of The Hearing Review is thankful for your safety, and we hope to see many of our friends and soon-to-be-friends at the autumn events.

Karl Strom