As one who’s long had a boundary of not turning on the television in the morning, my friend Cathy called me 19 years ago, imploring me to turn it on, moments before 9 a.m. Misbelieving my jaw could drop no farther, when plane #2 hit the South Tower at 9:02, I don’t know if still now I can assign words to my thought or emotion. In our ongoing, collective national processing, I’ve settled here… at least for now…
What happened on 9/11 is my #1 love/hate relationship.
Let me explain the hate first. After all, hate is always easier.
I hate that persons intentionally destroyed the Twin Towers.
I hate that these persons were terrorists.
I hate that 2,958 people died (note: if stated number appears different than factual records, the 19 hijackers have been removed from our listing, believing they don’t belong in the same breath).
I hate that the original planning of terror included 12 planes from both coasts, desiring to destroy the World Trade Center, Empire State Building, Pentagon, the Prudential Tower in Boston, the White House, U.S. Capitol, Chicago’s Willis (formerly Sears) Tower, the U.S. Bank (then Library) Tower in L.A., the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco, and the Columbia Center in Seattle.
I hate that the terrorists did this in the name of God. (To be clear, I don’t believe they knew what “the name of God” really means.)
Truthfully, our “hate” list could go on. As I met with a woman just this past spring who was originally scheduled to be on one of the planes and lost her fiancé in the attack, I’m poignantly reminded of how lives were forever changed that day… how the grief never fully goes away. There is much to hate. Again, hate is always easier.
But consistent with tragedy — not diminishing the pain and suffering in absolutely, any way — if we are willing to look for it, there is something good. There is something to love.
2020 is a crazy year. Call it “unprecedented.” Call it some “new normal.” Call it some other recently worn out phrase.
The reality is 2020 is a year marked by uncertainty. And uncertainty creates confusion and controversy… not to mention discomfort and division. Sadly, our messy 2020 America seems incredibly divided.
I may be climbing out on some simplified, societal limb here, but my sense is our division is only enhanced when we forget what’s most important… when we prioritize something lesser. Allow me not to suggest that our individual passions are unimportant; my speculation is more that our passions are enflamed when we forget what means more.
For example — and back to 9/11 — in the aftermath of September 11th, 2001, being a Democrat or Republican did not matter. Being black or white or Latinx did not matter. White collar/blue collar, gay/straight — none of it mattered.
Why? Because we found our identity in something bigger.
It’s not that those other identities are unimportant. They are significant and have shaped our individual existence; we would also do well to honor one another by understanding those individual shapings better and more.
But what I love about 9/11 is that it reminds us of that something bigger. It reminds us that bigger than all of the above dichotomies, we are human.
19 years ago, we came together… Democrat/Republican, black/white, gay/straight — we locked arms together. In fact, only 3 days after the attack, Congress passed a $40 billion, bipartisan anti-terrorism and victim aid measure; they worked together. We worked together.
We worked together with the different. We worked and walked even with those who irritate or annoy us… who disagree with us.
What I love about 9/11 — as awful as that day was — is that it gives us an opportunity to remember what’s bigger…