18 years ago i woke up to the news that a jet had flown into one of the World Trade Center towers. i then watched live as a second jet flew into the second tower and then as the towers fell. i remember seeing specks fall from the buildings prior to their crumbling, horrified to realize these “specks” were people. some falling, but many jumping to their death – all avoiding the hot flames and smoke.
on this day, we have little trouble saying “never forget,” but can we remember? can we remember that the minutes, hours, days following the response was love and a sense of community? the nation opened its heart to each other and the world opened its heart to us.
there was an opportunity there. an opportunity for a path that abhorred violence and embraced healing. a path to bring unification in message that an ideology of fear and hate has no place in our hearts or on the world stage. that path was lost to us, perhaps we just weren’t ready to stay in a place where the wound was fresh and could teach us. the horror and tragedy all too infuriating, the wound too painful and uncomfortable.
18 years later. we still have first responders suffering deadly illness and practically begging our government for care, we still have the longest war in US history going on in Afghanistan (over 2000 military dead and over 20,000 injured), over a hundred thousand Iraqi citizens dead from the war in Iraq (over 4000 US military dead with over 30,000 injured), and we are still besties with Saudi Arabia where 15 of the 19 hijackers were citizens.
i know it isn’t popular to be critical on such a solemn occasion, a day reserved for grief. but how much more grieving is it to see that out of such horrific tragedy, we have learned so little and continue to contribute to violence and suffering? i grieve it all.
yes, let’s never forget. but let’s also remember the potential we showed – if ever so brief – for love, for healing, for unity and a sense of world community. there’s hope present in that and something to work towards.
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