I woke up this morning to write a post about 9/11. September 11, 2001, is a date that I suppose will always have bloggers waking up and thinking about what to write.
But what is there to actually say?
I think the better part of the day is what we don’t say. Why? Well, in all honesty, days like this are often too crowded with political talk or “advertisement.” What happened all those years ago is beyond such things. It’s not a day to peddle politics or rhetoric, but a time to perhaps gather with friends and remember in peace, sit quietly and reflect, or just get on with daily business in a personal commitment to not allow such terror to stop one from going out into the world with the courage to face another day and to do a little good in the world. (There’s a tremendous value in that, too!)
If words are exchanged, may they be words of encouragement, support, and friendship.
A takeaway lesson of 9/11, then, is that we quietly rise above fear. Then, on 9/12/11 (and beyond), we try our best to greet ourselves, and each other, in this same spirit. In other words, we spend time in quiet reflection, contemplation, and peace, and when we do speak, we do so in a way that is friendly and kind. Then we repeat the process over and over, day after day. Impossible? Maybe…but it depends on your point of view and the standard to which you hold yourself.
See, in the wake of 9/11, I believe the perpetrators’ hopes were that we would become a country paralyzed with fear and incivility. I believe they wanted us to feel strife between neighbors so that we would prey on each other in violent and hostile ways. What they forgot were the natural tendencies of the human spirit, which I believe are this: as people, we often fall short, hurting and criticizing each other. That’s our wild animal nature. It’s just part of who we are sometimes. However, we are also prone to assist, support, care, befriend, and gather peacefully. That’s our better, superlative nature.
So, when the planes crashed in fields and hit the buildings on 9/11, we made a choice as a society to go against the wishes of the perpetrators — we didn’t cower in fear, but we stood tall, stood together, and stood in courage. And, even though politics has gotten ugly (very ugly) since that day, one thing has shone brilliant: the triumph of a country and her spirit.
I don’t agree with everything that goes on in the corners of this country. I don’t agree with everything that goes on around this spinning globe. Heck, I don’t agree with everything that goes on in this universe! That’s natural, I suppose. And I believe it’s healthy — for, disagreement is the ongoing march of progress and change. But at the end of the day, I’m happy to be in a place where I can disagree, argue, support, and criticize without fear and amidst the oft-good nature of neighbors. And that, my friends, is a lasting legacy of 9/11 — it’s not terror and cowardice, but the recognition that we live in a place where we can pull together in tough times, have a bit of good, old fashioned disagreement, and come out better (and closer?) for it.
I think many political regimes and angry movements around the world are jealous of that.
So today, put words second. Let actions be what they may. First and foremost on this 9/11/11, let your thoughts and good feelings guide the way. Walk away quietly from the gut-wrenching conflicts in your life, put on a smile, and engage your community in a friendly way, with a friendly energy. In that manner, you not only silently and masterfully defy terror, but you relegate it to outsider status in this country. And, you take one more small step to banishing it forever from our midst. Then, tomorrow, you do it all over again. And again. And again. Come what may.
In the end, isn’t that the greatest victory of all?