I don’t remember the exact exchange of words I had with my brother when he called me the morning of September 11. 2001, but, knowing me, I probably said something smart-assed because I have chronic insomnia and the last thing I want is interrupted sleep when I’m actually getting some. I do know I quit being a smart-ass as soon as I recognized the tone of his voice… it registered fear and disbelief as he said “No, really, you have to turn on CNN. I don’t believe this.”
I crawled out of bed, barely opening my eyes, grabbed my remote, turned on the TV to CNN and as the picture came on and my eyes focused, I saw a plane hit the World Trade Center in New York City.
My first thought was, “My God, what a horrible accident!” Shock turned to complete disbelief as I heard them talking, getting only a few words here and there because I think my mind was already setting itself into denial mode. Words like hijackers, airplanes, both towers, the Pentagon a target… and then the first tower collapsed to the ground and there was no way to deny what I was seeing and hearing any longer. The New York City skyline changed forever and, along with it, so did the whole world as I knew it.
I watched the entire day, seeing the second tower fall, hearing of the attack on the Pentagon, hearing of the brave passengers on Flight 93 who decided that, if they had to die, it would mean something… that plane never reached its intended target (believed to be either the U.S. Capitol or the White House). The Flight 93 passengers re-took the plane and it crashed in a remote field in Pennsylvania.
The images I saw that day are forever etched in my mind. I’ve never forgotten the tragic events, nor the aftermath that followed. I don’t believe anyone has forgotten any of that.
But, sadly, I think we, as a nation, have forgotten what got us to that terrible moment in time in the first place.
I feel as though we are right back in that same comfort zone of superiority and self-righteousness, and utter “we’re better than you because…” smugness that we’ve always been in. Worse, we’ve also slipped back into the same apathy. too. That same “I don’t care what happens to the rest of the world, because I’m an American” crap.
Immediately after 9/11, the whole world came together for a brief moment. For one brief, glowing moment in time, we were all one people… the human race… joined in grief, sorrow, and disbelief. New Yorkers were our brothers and sisters and we all, as a nation, joined together and helped them in any way we could. Some traveled across country to help, those who couldn’t kept prayer vigils and sent donations, food, water, clothing, whatever was needed.
Now… do we really give that much thought to all of it? Admit it, the most we think about it is on the anniversary every year. And we obviously don’t give much, if any, thought to the cause.
Hate… fear… ignorance. We hate what we’re afraid of, and we’re afraid of what we don’t understand. Yet, we do very little to change things.
Instead, we show the world our ignorance by opposing the building of a mosque in New York, It’s called a slap in the face to those who died on 9/11. I see it as an attempt to close wounds and educate us about what we don’t understand. The first lesson being that not every Muslim is a member of the Al-Qaeda and set on declaring a Jihad against all Americans. Instead of opposing the building of this mosque, with threats of violence, no less… we should, instead, use it as an opportunity to extend an olive branch, if you will. Allow them to have their mosque and then maybe build a Christian church, and a Jewish temple or just a larger center where everyone can go and learn about ALL religions and cultures. Let the mosque stand as a symbol of hope, peace and brotherhood, whether you are Muslim or not.
Stop the madness that brought us to such a tragic, horrific moment in history.
I’m not just talking about allowing Muslims freedom to worship, either. We display our ignorance in other ways. There are many Americans denied basic freedoms because everyone refuses to understand them. They are seen as something less than American, less than human and undeserving of rights afforded to other Americans just because they love and have committed themselves to someone of the same gender.
That makes no sense to me. Love is love is love is love! The heart wants what the heart wants! Why is this seen as wrong???
If God is infallible, and He knows each of us before we are even born, and He creates us in His image… why are so many people born homosexual or bisexual? God doesn’t make mistakes… so… well, you figure it out.
What I really want to say is this… stop hating what you don’t understand. Educate yourself and try to look at the world and its people with new eyes. We are all humans. We may not speak the same languages or believe the same things… but we all feel the same emotions. Joy, sorrow, grief, pain, loss, happiness, hope, and love.
“Faith, hope and love are some good things He gave us… and the greatest is love,” – Alan Jackson “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turnin’)”