Friday, September 11, 2009
Seeing the light
On this day three years ago I wrote a letter to my daughter about the day our country changed.
September 11, 2001.
I wrote about what I was doing on that day when I learned two planes had crashed into The World Trade Center. I wrote about how I felt and what I witnessed in the days following the attacks. I wrote about the fear that gripped each and every one of us.
I read that letter every year on this date.
And each year, I see how little use that fear has been to us.
Moreover, I’ve come to a more somber understanding of what that fear has taken away from us as a nation.
And I remember what was so miraculous about humanity -- a word that’s meaning in our collective lexicon holds more imperfection lately than kindness – on that day.
On that day we only saw suffering, we didn’t see race or creed or color. We looked for ways to help instead of ways to insulate. We looked at each other and instead of seeing all the things that make us different we noticed all the things we share. Empathy enveloped everything we said or did.
It saddens me that we tend to exhibit this rather significant part of our inner souls only in the aftermath of tragedy, and only briefly. The things that sustain us the rest of the time are competition, greed and fear. It doesn’t have to be this way.
We can learn to be brave just as we’ve been taught to be afraid.
Living in fear is not really living life to its fullest.
So for me, on this inauspicious day, I will celebrate the ways we took care of each other eight years ago, and the way we faced fear with stone faces. It serves as proof we still have true bravery within us.