PWK is probably a strange place to find a piece about 9/11, but it was such a significant event in the lives of so many people around the world, that I couldn't let it go by without a respectful mention.
Like many others, I was at home watching it unfold live on the news. At the time I was speechless. I couldn't make sense of what was happening. Ten years later, it's still hard to make sense of something so tragic, so devastating, but some feelings have bubbled up for me that I can share with you.
Sadness - Almost 3,000 people died in the terrorist attack ten years ago today. Several hundred of those were police officers and firefighters. More than 3,000 children lost parents.Over 1,600 people lost a spouse. It's estimated that 20% of the U.S. population was touched directly by the tragedy. The sadness and loss is immeasurable. Sadness is the first emotion that hits me, but it doesn't stay long. It's quickly replaced with....
Gratitude - I can't think about 9/11 without feeling grateful - grateful for my family, my home, my freedoms, the police and fire professionals who keep us safe, my community, my friends. The list goes on and on. There are many countries, including those of the 9/11 terrorists, in which PWK would be illegal and the penalty for writing about and doing what we write about and do here is death. In many of those same countries, the penalty for a woman having sex with a man who is not her husband (by choice or by rape) is also death. I can't begin to tell you how grateful I am to live in a place where I can express myself freely, without fear of arrest.
Confusion - But sometimes I am still confused. How does a dislike or hatred for the way of life of an entire people justify killing them? On another level, how does dislike or disagreement with an individual's lifestyle justify hatred and abuse? In the freest country on the planet (ok, ok....one of the freest countries on the planet), why do so many people choose to use that freedom to disparage and abuse others?
Resolve - Mahatma Gandhi said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." Leo Tolstoy said. "Everyone thinks about changing the world, but no one thinks about changing himself."
Clearly, I can't change everyone. In fact, I really can't change anyone but myself, but I can change myself. Rather than bemoan intolerance, I can practice tolerance. We do that in our own teeny tiny way here at PWK, too. When a hater posts, instead of responding in kind or banning them, we thank them for their comment, welcome them, and encourage their participation. That doesn't happen by accident. It happens because a small group of people choose not to respond to hate and anger with hate and anger.
It would be easy to make a cheap joke right now about how we prowlers love to "love" as many as we can, but that's not the point. The point is treating others with dignity and respect whether you love them or agree with them or not. I can resolve not to be the hater who lets their hatred and intolerance get so out of hand that they lash out and kill others. It's apropos that the 9/11 terrorists killed themselves in the attacks on that day because that is exactly what hatred does to a person - it kills you, destroying you silently from the inside out as you act to hurt others.
As I reflect on 9/11, that's what I think about. I let the sadness of the loss wash over me quickly, then I focus on the gratitude. And that leads me to be resolved to "be the change I want to see in the world."
A lot of people died 10 years ago for me to learn and internalize this lesson. I owe it to them not to forget. We all do.
W can resolve to make a change in our small corners of the world, and then watch the ripples.
"I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples." -Mother Teresa