I didn’t plan this post, however, listening to the news this morning motivated me to write. After all, this day 11 years ago started much like today – a beautiful fall day with a mild temperature and a clear sky – but then something changed the world as we knew it.
On that day I was in my work cubicle with our local NPR station in the background when I first heard the brief report, and my colleague and I talked about a small-engine plane running into a tall building. As more news became available, our mood quickly changed.
Whether shock, terror, grief, or any other emotion of the day, the mood of that day stayed for months. The world had changed. Our routines changed. Our awareness changed.
One that day and in the days ahead, we were one. We were one as a nation, and yes, I believe one as a world. – well, at least the vast majority. The events blurred the differences of politics, ethnicity, culture, salary, profession, and many more. I still look back at that time of need and continue to believe that President Bush’s leadership during that time was the crowning achievement of his presidency. On that day, we also gained a greater appreciation for first responders, which eventually led to greater appreciation for those serving in our military.
Unfortunately, we lost that oneness. Before 2001 ended, politicians used the event and the issues to divide. Others reinforced the thought that the event was an attack by Muslim on Christians. Our elected legislators turned medical and financial support for the first responders suffering side effects from their work into a political football. All one has to do is look at the current election season to notice that our oneness has been replaced by something much less graceful.
Meanwhile, those in primary school at the time are now high school seniors or college freshman. Families still feel the pain of their loss on that day. Some lives have moved on – others remain crushed or embroiled in bitterness. September 11, 2001 affected many – and in different ways. Yet, in today’s time of economic need, I still yearn for the oneness beyond selfishness.
Regardless of the type of media, there was no shortage this past week of 9/11 stories. Sorrow, confusion, fear, pride, anger, grief, emptiness, and dismay – the stories were there to capture the emotion – as they were there to capture heroism, patriotism, or genuine service and compassion. This post is not about recounting where I was on that day; nor of my personal encounters with that day; nor is it to rehash the countless stories that already exist – but to stimulate thinking.
Learning is an important tool for everyone. All one has to do is read online comments regarding anything about Islam to conclude that many, if not most, American non-Muslims know very little about Islam and hold many misconceptions.
Forgiveness, an important Christian foundation, is something that one must do in order to heal their wounds. My November 16, 2010 post about forgiveness concludes with a challenge regarding 9/11.
My last aim is to remind us of something we had, but have lost. 9/11 brought a political grace to Washington. The event brought elected officials together. 9/11 gave leaders an opportunity to lead to heal. 9-11 gave Washington the opportunity to listen, discuss, and gracefully disagree. 9/11 gave leaders the opportunity to be country first. 9/11 gave us as citizens to be one. I a column titled Into an Unknowable Future, Tom Brokaw wrote these words a few weeks after 9/11: Will the surge of bipartisan spirit endure, washing away the pettiness that devalues public life and alienates voters? (NY Times, Sept 29, 2011)
It is my nature to be reflective and positive about life. I appreciate the image above because it reminds us of what was and illustrates the light of hope for what is to come. And yes, a positive image.