Did you take time to remember today?
17 years ago, people’s memories were emblazoned by two planes flying directly into the World Trade Center towers in New York City. Additional planes crashed into the Pentagon and in a field in Pennsylvania, both part of the attack.
I’m not going to recount where I was that day, or the fact that for nearly two decades the country has been at war, or that the event has faded from our national consciousness. What I want to raise, for your reflection today, is how 9/11/2001 impacts us today. I want you to consider this:
Since 9/11/2001, the country and all of us have been living in a constant state of fear.
I would argue the United States has fractured along just about every possible social, economic, ethnic, political, and ideological line possible. We have let fear in every way imaginable rule our hearts and minds, gripping us in a primal state of survival that frankly, isn’t warranted in a civilized society like ours today. I would challenge everyone: what in the world is out there that you should constantly fear for your life every single day?
Fear is an important emotion. When our primal ancestors saw a saber tooth tiger or watched half of the population get wiped out by a plague, there was certainly a reason to fear. Today, however, most fears are steeped in conspiracy, lies, and neurotic extremes that have little chance of occurring. Fear has manifest itself in our democracy to the point it our government can’t seem to do anything substantial for this country. Fear has ignited a fire inside people, motivating them to violence that seeks to strike and shoot first, and ask questions later. Fear has motivated us to spend countless resources on personal and national security, all the while neglecting the needs of those who suffer needlessly. Fear has raised the number of suicides, mental and emotional health issues in people of all ages.
Fear has made us less vulnerable, loving, open, compassionate….the list is endless.
My biggest fear is that “never forget” has come to mean “never stop fearing.” I wish, and I hope beyond all hope, that remembering 9/11/2001 would be about recalling stories how we bonded together, how we forgave, and how we were compelled to vocations and callings of service. I wish never forgetting was about remembering how we overcame fear, and how we continue to overcome personal and collective fear in our lives each and every day.
For me, the work of overcoming that fear, and helping others overcome their as well, is what drives what I do today. And so, I never forget.