Taking a Chance

I cannot take myself back to the day that John F. Kennedy was shot.  I cannot relate as my parents descibe the events of that day, or what it felt like in the aftermath.  My generation does not know  that horror, thank God.  My generation knows of another tragedy that rocked the nation.

Today marks 12 years since the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon were attacked.  I am part of the 9-11 generation.  A generation that grew up believing that not only were we as individuals were invincible, but that our nation was untouchable.  We learned in the second it took to run a plane into a building that none of us came out of that unscathed.  We watched, partly with the unspeakable hope that this was some horrid movie clip.  It wasn’t, it was real.  Every 9-11 we revisit that day and we pray it never happens again.  Ever.

What do I tell my children of that day?  How do I explain to them, who were not born, what this day means to us who lived it?  I feel an odd sense of protection of the events that day, lest history books tell a different story.  How do I comfort them and tell them something like that will never happen again?  How do I explain the violence in light of current events surrounding Syria?  How do I promise them unconditional safety?

I don’t.  I can’t tell them that, I never will be able to do so.

What I CAN do is speak of hope.  Hope seems the one word which can motivate even the staunchest cynic.  Some would say that anger would be more motivating….I disagree.  To what end does reacting in anger help any situation?  My son went missing the other day for over five hours.  Now, I live in a small town, so I knew instinctively that nothing would probably happen to him.  See, I was lulled into a sense of complacency.  I found him hanging at a friend’s house and told him quietly to get home NOW.  He was scared to death that I was angry.  I was.  I was also terribly scared.  You see, generation 9-11 taught me that no one is totally safe.  Becoming a mother and living every moment for my children has also taught me to constantly be on guard.  They are too important not to have a mother watching and listening intently.  If I had reacted in anger, what would he have learned?  I spoke sternly and taught him the importance and the gravity of his actions.  I impressed upon him how important he is to me and so many others, yes he is even important to his big brother.

You see, I hope he learned a valuable lesson.  I also hope that he heard how important and precious he is.  I hope he came away knowing that there is nothing that would make me stop loving him.  EVER.

This brings me back to my original thoughts.  Mankind as a precious species, no matter what. EVER.  I may step on  toes here, but I will risk it.  As I think back on Sept. 11 and where I was.  BTW, i was teaching high level journalism and then 6th graders.  I saw their faces, the questions in their eyes.  How odd it was to go from students 16 years old to a roomful of 6th graders.  No parent, teacher, or clergy have to expain a tragedy such as what we endured.

Likewise, no parent, teacher, or clergy should have to tackle the issue of hate in whatever form it takes.  Was I angry at the events?  Most assuredly.  We should not have to explain to the generations behind us what hate and violence solves.  What are we teaching them?  What happened to treating mankind like the treasured gifts they are?  Do we agree with every decision made?  Absolutely not, EVER.  Do we have the right to make whole factions of mankind pay for the actions of others?  By this I mean, do we make all white causcian males pay for what has been done to the Native Americans or African Americans?   What was done was atrocious.  When do we stop the disregard for people  whose sexual orientation, religious (or non religious) affiliation, color, ability, money (or lack of it) and dictate that they are somehow less?  Explain to a young lady growing up that being a smart and capable woman means that she will be regarded as a bitch.  Tell the young man that he is to blame for all the wrong that has happened and will happen.  Approach the homeless or addict look them in the face and deem them unworthy.  Regard those suffering from mental illness, a history of abuse, rape, or other unspeakable intrusions that they did something to deserve such treatment.  Lobby to have all refugees and immigrants removed from a nation which promises a safe haven and a land of opportunity.  Tell me that I have no right to articulate these thoughts.

You may react in anger, choose to disregard this as so much blather, condemn me, or choose not to read.  You know what?  That is completely your choice.  I will still believe in the fact you are worth more than we can measure with existing technology.  Nothing can change that fact, EVER.  While the events of 9-11 rock my world every year, so do the other acts of senseless violence happening in our schools throughout the country or at marathons or celebrat ions.  I do not want a world where we have to explain why someone goes into a school intent on harm.  I pray for a world which understands that waging war is not a solution.  Weren’t we taught not to fight in the early years of school?  I could swear I heard that somewhere.  I yearn for a time when we embrace one another for who they are, that we look deep into their eyes and listen to their story.  It may just remind you of parts of your own story.

9-11 is part of my generation X’s life and legacy.  It is irreversible.  What happens today and forward is in the hands of each of us.  It is in our power to change and restore that which has been wounded.  I accept that challenge.  Do you?




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