The circumstances on 9/11—the 9/11 of 2011 and not the 9/11 0f 2001—have caused me to think. On 9/11 of this year, the tenth anniversary of the attack on the Twin Towers in New York City, the TV was filled with nonstop images and rhetoric of destruction, death, anguish and vengeance. A recount of the occurrences of that day and the subsequent happenings that were spread out over years were recalled on radio and in newspapers as well. There were memorial services in countless locations throughout the country.
I well understand the need to honor those that died in the attacks that took place on that day and the desire to teach those who were not yet born at that time the immense horror of what took place. But is there not a better way to do that?
As a nation, we condemn the attacks, now as well as then, as being acts of terrorism, violence and destruction that were beyond understanding. We reject any thought that they were justified. We announced to the world that we were totally opposed to such acts and would not condone them. Yet in our remembrances of that day, we recreate them in detail. For what purpose?
We say we want to follow ways of peace, to extend justice, equality and democracy to all nations. Does our dwelling on the execution and effects of one of the most horrific acts of covert terrorism to ever happen aid us in those efforts? Do we spend our time, energy and money in this way simply to present an example of what not to do? Is that effective? Hardly. More than likely it simply causes a desire in the viewer and the listener for vengeance, retaliation in kind, a repetition of violence and destruction and, in these days of war by remote control and “improved” weaponry, a loss of other innocent lives. In other words, a continuation of the same.
If we truly want the opposite of death, destruction and sorrow, then why do we not observe the day by putting those opposites into effect? The opposite of destruction is construction, the opposite of sorrow, joy and of death—life. It isn’t difficult to think of many ways to demonstrate such things. In every neighborhood of our country there is a need for such things. Why not start this custom—tradition—right here in this neighborhood? It has to start somewhere. Why not here? If it is meant to, it will spread. If it does make it to other neighborhoods, other sections of the country, why let it stop there?
Dream a little. Think what this could mean. More than confining our efforts to our homeland why not carry them abroad—to other countries where they are needed? And let the recipients know where it comes from and why—that this act of good will and kindness is our answer to the terror that was brought to us. Out of our pain and sorrow we give to you this token of hope for the future of us all.
What if it were possible to do this? What could be the result? All over the world, in small ways, we could reverse the symbol that is 9/11. Out of sorrow could come joy; out of destruction could come construction; out of pain, healing; out of violence, kindness; out of despair, hope. Out of death could come life.
The principle is sound. Work for what we want and not against what we don’t want. Put our energy where it counts. The principle is worthwhile in any number of situations. What if something like this were tried and it didn’t work? We’d be no worse off than we are now. But if it did work? Then the act of terrorism would be marked and known worldwide in a positive way. That would truly be an effective way of countering and nullifying the act of terror itself. Let everyone know that terror gains nothing but that positive works can gain everything.
Sound impossible? Maybe it isn’t. The point is, is it worth a try? What have we to lose?
Let’s try a better way to remember 9/11.