On September 11
I wrote this post four years ago and I did a light rewrite this morning. Almost everything I said and felt in 2010 still feels true to me today so I'm going to beat this drum again - and again - and again.
It's September 11. 9/11. The day I buy yellow roses and take them to the statue in front of Engine 1.
I buy a yellow rose for my house in honor of Laura Rockefeller and in honor of everyone who died and survived that day.
But, do I mean everyone? Do I include the terrorists in this?
Why bother. They wouldn't care anyway. They're proud of what they did.
They think they've won.
But they didn't win if 9/11 becomes something that unites the entire world with a vision of love and peace.
In honor of one of the many moments that turned our heads and made us more aware of the joy of being alive - and aware of how much of an impact hate can have on the world.
What if we turn our heads and choose to be aware of the impact love and caring can have on the world and we choose kindness and compassion.
Sometimes this is difficult for me because I can't pretend I am not very very very angry, but I can give myself permission to feel angry and use that anger as the fuel to make a choice for love instead.
It does come down to that - which will you choose?
Love or hate?
Peace or war?
Consuming or giving?
Ignoring or caring?
Kindness or ill will?
Every moment is a choice.
We often run around throughout our days thinking we have no choices, but the truth is we're fooling ourselves. We pretend to not have choices so we don't have to face the responsibility of our choices.
Choice can be a heavy burden. It's far easier to pretend choice doesn't exist. To believe we're locked in. To believe the world is just the way the world is.
The truth is the world is the way it is because we make it that way.
This is a very difficult truth for me because I look around and see so much that I don't like.
It would be willful ignorance to pretend sadness, discrimination, frustration, hatred and greed don't exist.
I'll be honest and tell you that I've chosen willful ignorance in the past. And I think I can predict with a fair amount of accuracy that I'll slip in and out of willful ignorance in the future.
But it helps to ask this question...
What impact could we all have on the beauty and kindness of this world if we made conscious choices each and every day to contribute to peace, kindness and generosity?
I admire the people who seem to be blessed with the instinct for kindness and generosity.
But, if I'm honest with myself, I know they weren't blessed with it. They chose it and continued to choose it daily in the face of hatred and fear.
Some chose to devote their lives to peace.
They are the brave and shining lights of our history.
Myself, I vacillate constantly between utter cynicism and extreme idealism.
In truth I'm more of an idealist, but I return to cynicism again and again hoping it will keep me safe from disappointment.
I'm fairly certain Martin Luther King Jr. is disappointed in us. We haven't come very far, have we? And we keep back pedaling.
I'm also fairly certain that Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Ghandi aren't sitting around shaking their heads thinking, "What fools we were. We should have known better. We wasted our lives trying to make a difference."
Whatever their reaction to the state of our world today, I'm sure it wouldn't be apathetic.
Dreams - are so valuable and precious that, I think, we're afraid to say them out loud.
What if we say them out loud and they get spit on or they blow away - or get blown to bits?
What if someone makes fun of me for saying, "I'm angry AND I want peace so I'm choosing today and onward to channel the energy of my anger into loving kindness."
Does that sound ridiculous?
Today, it's my truth.
(Writing can feel like praying.)
How would our lives be different if 9/11 never happened?
I'm afraid to contemplate that question because there are answers I don't want to hear.
Our friends and family members would be alive.
And we would still be blissfully unaware of the danger we are in - of the danger we've created.
I would be happy with both of those things. I would. But, it's not possible to turn back the clock. And how far back would we have to turn the clock to prevent the hatred that brought about that murderous day? And all the murderous days since. How far back would we have to go? Does anyone know?
We can't create peace in the past. All of us only have so many days to contribute. And I don't know how to create peace in our present, but I do know letting the memory of this day divide us any further is NOT the answer.