So yesterday was all about remembering, though I doubt any of us, the whole world of us, will ever forget how we heard or where we were or what we saw. Ten years. Not nearly enough time to forget. Even a little. As we commemorate with countless television specials and flags as facebook pictures and conversations with friends and loved ones, what has changed in us from that day when we watched people make the unthinkable choice to jump to their deaths rather than an even more horrible alternative? Are we better, smarter, kinder, more tolerant? Should we be? I think so, yes. In those days that followed, we were. Help came from everywhere. Food, water, medical help, simply sitting next to someone so they need not be alone with their fear; all of those things became normal. Simple people became extraordinary heroes. While we remember those who perished, perhaps we should also remember who we were, who we became the day they died.
A few thoughts....
A huge number of people became afraid of the Muslim people because of the actions of radicals. We all, every one of us, should have done our homework on these people. We've had plenty of time to do so. They are all around us. They are kind and peace loving. They have families and loved ones that also died on 9/11. They are beautiful and intelligent and faithful, and yet all these years later, the word Muslim is still spoken in a negative way. No one who is part of an organized religion should point any negative fingers at these people. Somewhere out there in the world, there is some poor individual who is committing a horrible act and using the name of your God as his rationalization. Count on it. Crazy didn't find a home in the Middle East and stay there. Crazy is everywhere and wears the name of every religion and every god. AND, while we are doing our homework on the people of Islam, how about we go all out and research Jews, Hindus, Unitarians, Methodists, Buddhists, Sufies, Catholics, Fundamental Christians, Pagans, etc., etc. How much more enlightened we might be! You don't have to want to become part of a group in order to understand more about it. Tolerance and understanding are powerful, beautiful things. They are the stepping stones to peace.
There are hundreds of people who ran into those burning buildings to save a life, any life, who are now dying of cancer. A large number of those people do not have insurance. A whole group of children turned 10 this year having never known their fathers. Burn victims struggle through every day. Mothers and wives and husbands and children and sisters and brothers and friends still grieve, still have nightmares about their loved ones death. Kind of makes being stuck in traffic or getting the wrong order at the drive through seem petty. Not even blips on life's radar. I'm not suggesting that we carry the dark cloud of 9/11 around with us all the time, just let it help us keep some perspective. Life can be hard, but each moment, each breath is sacred.
Has the legacy of 9/11 made us more giving of ourselves? I'm thinking no. Food pantries still need food and volunteers to distribute it. Literacy programs still need those willing to teach. Almost every community agency or group that relies on volunteers to be effective are in need of willing people. Surely, after seeing what good was accomplished through kind hearts 10 years ago, a spark of that should still be alive today.
As the flags are carried in for the night and chants of "USA" become whispers, consider who we are. We are Americans and being so does not make us superior to any other person living in any other country, it just means we live in America. We have experienced and seen suffering in ways that can barely be imagined and we are not alone in this. Pain is generous in her outpouring. As Americans, let us be free from judgement and boastful proclamation. Let us be kind and strong and willing to reach out a hand. Let us have learned that broken hearts are the strongest and the quickest to offer love.
Let us be changed for the better.