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9/11: The Love


I know you can do it, America. You did it before. You all pulled together and, while you won’t admit it because it sounds sappy and corny and hardly hi-tech, I will never forget that for one brief shining moment your gut reaction to tragedy and insult was . . . yup, I’m going to say it . . . love.

Remember the immediate moments after four planes changed our lives on Sept. 11, 2001?

I don’t mean what was going on at Ground Zero or the Pentagon or a Pennsylvania field. I mean right in your own town.

Remember how for a few days people were nicer to each other? Remember how much time we spent with our families? How polite we were when we did mundane things like driving and checking out at the grocery store? Remember how silly our previous focus seemed on what Madonna was wearing and who was on Oprah?

Remember how every family had so many American flags on their cars we all looked like we had our own private motorcades?

Shortly afterward many yanked those flags as they called for investigations and accountability. Others left the flags on and questioned everyone’s allegiance and faith. It was the beginning of the divide so well exploited by the media. And we began speaking to each other via inflammatory bumper stickers.

I remember thinking, in those brief moments following the disasters, how proud I was that instead of responding with hate and anger, we all chose to open our hearts to each other. While most look at this as a period to be dismissed, to me it was the most critical time of all. With the whole world watching, it boiled down to a choice each individual had to make: to go on the offensive and let our anger seek retribution and our fear seek revenge or to continue down the path our immediate gut reaction was leading us – that of unity, understanding and . . . God, here comes that trite word again . . . love.

There. I said it. That sappy, simplistic, non-political, hippie word: Love.

A lot of people write off that brief period as the manifestation of a nation in shock; that once we came to our senses it was time to get down to business. We’re almost embarrassed at our sappy behavior in those first days. How could all of Congress have possibly stood outside the U.S. Capitol and sang “God Bless America” – without bickering over what they were going to sing, that the song had “God” in it and who should just mouth the lyrics because they can’t carry a tune in a basket?

It’s obvious what we ultimately did choose. And in our fervor to avenge this attack upon our nation, most of us lost the little shreds of meaning from an attack that seemed so overwhelmingly senseless. Luckily we have all those answering machine messages left that morning to the victims’ relatives to remind us. They didn’t call and leave political statements or directives to retaliate against the groups that caused their murder. They left messages of . . . love.

I wish we had stayed with it, but something convinced us that all that kindness and tolerance floating around was just naïve and sentimental. Maybe it was the media at the mercy of political spin; maybe it was our American “don’t just sit there, do something” culture; maybe we forgot that just as individuals with a corporate hate could organize such an attack, individuals with corporate love could diffuse it.

Or maybe it’s that we’re more comfortable discussing what to do about our hate than about how to get to a state of love.

Share  Posted by Jeanne Jackson at 12:30 PM | Permalink

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