Saturday, September 11, 2010
Found and Lost Again
Photo by Dakota www.flickr.com/photos/dakota3507
In the weeks following September 11th, we found a gift amongst us. The special treasure was empathy. On the days I headed down the aisle at the grocery store people would smile and nod, occasionally adding a "hi there" or "have good day". In the parking lot there was a surprising dose of grace and courtesy; road rage was barely discernible on the highways. We were collectively grieving our loss of the people most of us had not known personally, as well as a bit of our naivete. At most wakes and funerals there is a level of politeness not afforded most other gatherings. I've heard of the occasional angry mosh at the death of a loved one, but for the most part we humans try to maintain our dignity in the company of great loss. Death cobbles us together in a pudding of sadness pain and love.
I remember commenting to anyone who would listen, that this gift of kindness would bring one positive out of the overwhelming hell the visual of the planes had created. How amazing it would have been if the tragedy could have taught us something lasting and beautiful. Those moments of humanity, the outpouring of support and love from across the world, the stunning acts of bravery during the rescue of the survivors, were all examples of how the terrorists may knock buildings and people down, but they would never dim the light of our collective spirit.
Unfortunately as the shock began to subside anger overtook the empathetic viewpoint and revenge became a new kind of love. It was honorable to imprison teenagers without charges and desecrate another person's holy place of worship in the name of the souls who unwillingly gave their lives to another person's fanaticism.
Fear, rage and hatred leave no room for love, empathy and compassion. In the few religions I have spent a bit of time studying, none of them have pushed the "hang 'em high" mantra. Jesus didn't ask that his followers seek out and kill his murderers. His refrain, "They know not what they do" follows me now when I remember the day this all began, as well as all the ugliness that has followed. We found a pearl amongst the ashes, may we clean the grime from it's beautiful luster and teach ourselves how to forgive in the face of great adversity.