Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Reflections on 9/11

I was amazed that most of the day went by today without me even realizing that it was September 11th. It was tonight, when I turned on the TV and was assaulted with replays of the horrifying images of that day 6 years ago... that I remembered.

A couple years ago, on the anniversary of the attacks, I remembered dreading the inevitable replay of the images over and over and over again. As I turned on the TV I flipped through the channels, looking for something that didn't do what everyone else was doing: using the sensational images to captivate people's attention, all the while creating retraumatization, increased fear and fanning the feelings of hate and the thirst for justice or revenge.

I was so delighted when I happened upon a show highlighting the 'response' to 9-11 of several survivors. These people suffered the ultimate loss of husbands, sisters, brothers, wives and friends and yet they all went on to do great projects to help improve relationships with people around the globe, particularly in the middle east.

One group raised money to create schools in Afghanistan. They looked at the 'conditions' in the world that they believed had contributed to an environment ripe for terrorism and decided to try to do something about that. They said they were doing what they believed their loved ones would have done 'in response' to what happened on September 11th and what it was trying to show us about the world and our place in it.

Two women who were widowed on Sept. 11th started an annual bike ride from Ground Zero in NYC to Boston to raise money to provide financial and emotional support for Widows in Afghanistan and to raise awareness about their plight. They started the "Beyond the 11th" organization to accomplish their goals. Their response to personal tragedy and 'attack' was to reach out, find commonality and help people who are much worse off than they were, even with their tremendous loss. Instead of bitterness and hatred, these women didn't spend time thinking about or working for revenge. They focused on addressing underlying causes of some of our world's misery and set out to do something about it.

Their website is: http://www.beyondthe11th.org/index.html

I was so touched and moved while I was watching that show. September 11, 2001 was a horrible day. It has impacted us on more levels than most of us are even aware. We've lost many of our civil liberties in an effort to provide us with 'security.' We have invaded two countries in what I consider to be an ill-fated attempt to make us 'safe.' We have lost almost as many soldiers in the wars as we lost people on Sept 11th. We have been responsible for countless deaths of civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq. I believe we have missed some of the lessons available to us in the horrors of that day. The women who started "Beyond the 11th" and the others I saw in that show that day have grasped the real lessons of that day and have blazed a trail into the future that I hope more and more of us will follow.

I am truly grateful that those people featured in that show took the courses of action that they took. They set a fine example of the resilience of the human spirit and of how anyone can emerge from tragedy and loss with clearer vision and a willingness to step forward to change our world. I applaud them and hope we see more and more of that in our world.

Peace, Salaam, Shalom...

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