A day we Americans stop and pause in a moment of silence, in a day of remembering.
Let me be clear about this: I mean no disrespect when I tell you that as much as I enjoy the stories of where you were and what you were doing when you heard, I want more. I want to remember with a wider lens. I want to move forward as we look back. I want . . .
I want to know what you learned on That Day or because of That Day.
I want to know how you changed since 9/11. I want to know if it’s a lasting change or was it a well-intended but short-lived change.
I want to know how you think our country changed on That Day and if you think it changed for better or for worse.
I want to know how you think the world changed on That Day, and again – did it change for better or for worse?
I want to know why countries and people can’t leave each other alone to live according to their own belief and economic and political/governmental systems. I want to know why people don’t just move to another location that suits them better rather than strike out in a desire to take down those who would not be, think, or worship like them. I want to know why it’s not enough to live with Epictetus’s notion in mind that a noble life is one spent being the best woman, the best man you can be. I want to know what it will take to end the conquering mentality, the arrogance of my-way-or-the-highway mindset.
I want to know how we teach people that the way to change an undesirable life is to push up your shirtsleeves and get to work changing what you don’t like about your current situation. Will that be easy? Most likely not. But since when do we turn away from hard work? Which reminds me of another thing I want to know: when did “earn” become a 4-letter word?
I want to know how – on a community level, state level, national, continent level – we instill in ourselves and our children open-mindedness, and not just a tolerance but a love for difference and individuality. How? Tell me how. Please.
So much of what we hear and read today will be about lives lost on That Day. I want you to tell me about your loved ones (people and/or pets welcomed) that have died. Maybe they died in that horribleness we’ve come to call 9/11. Maybe they died somewhere else for some other reason on that infamous day. Maybe they died before the tragedy, maybe they’ve died since. Tell me about them. Tell me why you miss them and how they touched your life. Introduce me to them and tell me why you wish I could have known them. Tell me and know that your missing them today does not in any way diminish the tenderness we feel for all those who lost their lives and whose lives were irrevocably changed on That Day.
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Jeanne Hewell-Chambers has a wildly inquiring mind. Always has.