What I Know for Sure – reflections on World Trade Center tragedy – Brief Article
I DID NOT PERSONALLY KNOW ONE SOUL WHO PASSED on our tragic 9/II But I think about the victims a lot, often at the strangest times. I was in my closet putting on shoes yesterday morning and thought, How many others on that fated Tuesday made the same ordinary gesture? Getting ready for work. Doing the things we all ordinarily do. Putting out dog food. Packing a lunch. Nothing seems ordinary anymore.
Standing in Yankee Stadium on New York’s Sunday memorial service, looking out over the crowd–many crying, carrying pictures of their lost loved ones, holding hands across the bleachers with strangers, swaying in rhythm to the Boys and Girls Choirs of Harlem, singing We are not afraid, we are not afraid today–I felt so many emotions at once. I felt overwhelming sadness. A dumbfounding grief I felt comforted by those who came to share with one another and to seek solace for their loss. I felt that all pain is the same.
I later heard author Peggy Noonan put into words what I had sensed. “We all weep in the same language,” she said. I felt proud to be a part of the great American tapestry of voices contributing to the one great voice that is Freedom. I felt hopeful that this could be a new beginning for all of us. And I saw our humanity in a different light. Every single person there seemed extraordinary to me. Extraordinary in our differences in race, religion, culture, income; beliefs. Extraordinary in our sameness. We’re all human beings seeking love from one another and for ourselves.
What will we do now? There’s been so much talk of getting back to normal, but I really hope we don’t. I pray that we transcend what was normal for many of us — being preoccupied with meaningless things. Obsessing about things that in the long and short run don’t matter. I think those who were so ruthlessly murdered on September II would want us to do better. In their final moments they were calling home, expressing love. The very least, and most, we can do is the same. Right now
The hatred that brought down the Twin Towers and shattered the Pentagon won’t be going away anytime soon. It won’t disappear tomorrow, no matter our strategy, our military might. But we can remove this energy from ourselves. What I know for sure is that we must use this time to make the right decisions for ourselves, our children, and our nation. Our responsibility now is to not return to normal, to not live in the illusion that anything about this opportunity to be human and breathe and connect with one another is ordinary. Our responsibility is to create a new standard, a new way of being in the world. If we do that, we bring honor and meaning to the lives of those who died in the attacks. We give honor and meaning to our own.
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