As I sit here remembering where I was on September 11, 2001, it is hard to even fathom how something so horrific happened in our nation. Like so many others, I replay the awful, tragic events of the day.
I remember sitting outside on our porch the evening of the attacks, trying to wrap my brain around what I saw that morning. Our children were close by – we weren’t letting them out of our sight. The sky was calm and blue, and pastel hues began to emerge as the sun was setting. It was eerily quiet with no aircraft flying overhead. Neighbors were coming over, and a large gathering of stunned and somber people filled our yard. Folks that would normally just nod hello actually stopped to chat longer, as everyone needed to be surrounded by someone.
The next morning, people were lined up outside a flag store in our town, and by mid-day, America flags were swaying gently in the breeze on almost every house. News stories talked about long lines for giving blood donations; doctors and others were jumping in their cars and heading to New York to lend assistance; bottled water, clothing and non-perishables were collected. Churches opened their doors for prayer. People were kinder to each other and helping each other – looking out for their neighbors. September 12 brought about a change of heart and spirit. Police, firefighters and military members were thanked and honored. Somehow, as awful as September 11 was, September 12 began anew. Patriotism was sincere. People were changed.
So now, 14 years later, I have to ask, what the heck happened? How on earth did we forget what it was like to be bonded together and act civil towards one another?
Just this past week, a firefighter lost his life to an angry hit-and-run driver. Police officers are under attack, and I stopped counting how many we lost last week. Military members and their families are threatened. There have been instances where first responders have been refused service just because they are police officers or service members.
I’m not delusional – I know that there are a few rogue cops and soldiers amongst the ranks. But the majority of our first responders are honorable people. These are the folks that not only protect us, they serve us. They go into burning buildings; they perform first aid and CPR; they extract people from twisted wreckage; they deliver babies who are born en route to the hospital; they put a uniform on every day, and every day wonder if they will come home to their families.
And the discord doesn’t stop there. It runs so deep that it is oozing all over social media. If you have an opinion that is different from someone else’s, you are chastised and humiliated for speaking your mind. Bad manners and rudeness runs rampant.
Why don’t we care about each other anymore? Everything is a shouting match, a protest, or angry sparring online. There is little civility, and there is little to no respect for authority or anyone else. Sanctity of life seems to be out the window. People have died due to beatings at sports events. Spirits get crushed by betrayals made public.
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other.” Mother Teresa
We are divided and fragmented, hateful and opinionated instead of being united as one, like we were on September 12, 2001.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like who we have become. Reading or watching the news is difficult. Just when you think you’ve heard it all, another sick and demented story airs on the crimes committed against other human beings.
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Mother Teresa
It’s true. I can’t change the world, but I can change for the people in my world, starting with:
- Thanking our family, friends, neighbors and all others who are police officers, firefighters and military members. I don’t think any of these folks know how much they are loved and appreciated for what they do, every single day. And a huge shout-out to the first-responder families for their support.
- Acknowledging people with a greeting, a nod or a smile.
- Appreciating all forms of labor and the workers that make my life easier.
- Trying harder to be patient with people in general, acknowledging that they may be having the worst day of their life.
- Being kinder to others, especially when I am having a rough day.
- Treating others as I want to be treated.
- Being grateful for what I have.
- Smiling more; frowning less.
- Praying more; complaining less.
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Mother Teresa
My faith leads me to know that out of evil, God brings good. The good that came from the evil of September 11 were the positive changes we made on September 12. I pray that we won’t wait for another horrible act to bring us together. We can bring good from evil again.
© Lynne Cobb – 2015
Did you notice a change of heart in people after the terror attacks? Let me know in the comments below.