This does not make me un-American. Frankly, I think it makes me more of an American. I am sick to death of all the programming on TV about the 10th Anniversary of September 11th. Mostly because I find so much of it profoundly disrespectful. Really? I need to see a show about "How Pop Culture Saved America"? Are you kidding me?
If you had asked me on September 10th if I could have emotionally survived watching thousands of people die, I would have said "Absolutely Not!". I assumed that I did not have the fortitude to handle something like that and that I would have had to be institutionalized. But that didn't happen.
What did happen was that it made me want to be a better person. Like thousands, actually millions, of others, I just wanted to help. I realized that we live in a turbulent world and that, perhaps, peace is a pipe dream. But compromise and acceptance are not and I could embrace those in my own life. It took a long time for me to articulate this. September 11th was raw. It was painful. I felt the glass in the air when the second plane hit the towers. I was so overwhelmed by the loss of the day that I actually focused on the pigeons that must have been killed in the plaza between the towers. That was so much easier for me to handle than all of the people who were gone.
Earlier this year, I was at a Bat Mitzvah and, since I couldn't understand the Hebrew portions of the ceremony, I read the prayer book. And I found a prayer that said (and I paraphrase): Don't pray for things that have never existed. Don't pray for peace--instead pray for tolerance and communication. Wow! It rocked my world.
In that moment, I realized that the idea of peace is totally individual. I know what I think peace looks like. You know what you think peace looks like. And they are probably extremely different visions. Because, since we have no real, global examples to hold it up to, peace is completely subjective.
On the other hand, I have seen--and participated in--acts of kindness. Moments of coming together. Unique situations that could have gone terribly wrong but turned out just fine. And I can seek those out and try to make them bigger and more common.
I will be watching one program on September 11th. I will watch the 48 Hours coverage of the day. Do you know why? I will watch them because they were there. And I will pray for all of the people who were there and not watching from up-river like I was. And, on September 11th, I will shine a white light out of the very bottom of my soul for all of the people who are remembering loved ones lost. And all of those who stepped up and became a better person that day.
And in their honor, I will live my life to the fullest. I will do my best to live every day as if it is my last. And I will try my hardest to be kind and loving. And (and I know that there are people in the world who will have a problem with this), I will include the people who did this horrible act in my prayers. Their lives were lost as well and I am deeply saddened that there are so many people in the world who are so profoundly hateful and unhappy that they see acts of terrorism as the best option for themselves.
I double parked my car at the post office today and, as I was hopping out of the car to run to the mailbox, a man who was crossing the street took my mail out of my hand, added it to the pile he was carrying, gave me a little wave and took it all across the street and dropped it in the box.
I think that we should start a new tradition of making "September 11th Resolutions". Mine is to try to be like that man who took my mail today and do one, small act of kindness every day.