As I look back on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I (as I'm sure many) have very complex feelings. This is somewhat compounded by the fact that I live in a Muslim country. And I continue to realize how much of our fear is motivated by misunderstanding, which quite often turns into prejudice. I've had an opportunity to have many conversations with people regarding this issue (American and otherwise). Certain things I heard growing up from teachers, parents, religious leaders I have found to be only slight shades of truth, if not complete and total falsehoods. But, I’ll leave that for another post as there are more pressing issues. . .
While I have grieved for the people killed, their families, and our nation and world, my thoughts often turned to those intimately involved with 9/11. For those interviewed in positions of responsibility and power in the wake of 9/11, there have been determinations there was “nothing” they could have done. They did their jobs and when they realized the magnitude of terror, they continued to do their jobs (oftentimes putting aside their own fear and concern, and sometimes lives, for themselves and families) in the hopes that as many people could be saved as possible.
9/11 forever changed the scope of our world. While it happened on American soil, there were victims from over 90 nationalities. We were united as a world: disbelief, horror, grief, compassion, sincerity. We were brought together by horrific circumstances and over time as our collective psyche healed, we resolved ourselves to the idea “There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them (Andre Gide).”
Some have continued their lives by simply putting one foot in front of the other, realizing “today is the worst day you’ll ever have. Tomorrow will be a little better and each day will continue to improve.” This is not to discount the horror, but to simply understand how grief and disbelief are intertwined. Some continue to seek help for stress. Some have never been able to return to their jobs.
As I continue my introspection, I am choosing to keep an open mind. That is not to say I don’t experience fear, uncertainty, hesitancy as these are quite often useful emotions that will protect you at a primal level. But, I will travel, I will meet people, I will experience the world. Living in fear is simply no way to live. And I can’t be held hostage by the possibility of what might happen.
To close, I’ll continue to steal from another wise person; I’ve copied and pasted TG’s status update from September 11th:
“Today is not a day for memory. Everyday is.
Remember to not be filled with hate.
Remember to not treat people like things.
Remember that it is the collective sum of all of our choices that create the world we live in. Your choices are important. Even the small ones.
Namaste'. I honor that part of you that is also in me."
Fear makes strangers of people who would be friends. ~Shirley Maclaine