On September 11, 2001, the landscape of this place we call home changed forever. The persevering hatred of one man and his loyal followers and their wish to inflict injury on a country to which their abhorrence knew no bounds, finally alit on our soil and planted the seeds of destruction that only hate can birth: mistrust, misunderstanding, anger, suffering, pain, and the very emotion that was the catalyst to our devastation, hate. The airliners that flew into the Twin Towers on that beautiful, clear, crisp September morning served as pawns and opening move to a political and religious game that would now have no end. Countless victims were lost and injured on that day and today, on its 10th year anniversary, we once again honor them and stand in unity against the most heinous act ever committed on U.S. soil. Today, we honor and remember those who on that day kissed their loved ones goodbye and never got to see their families again. Today, we acknowledge and pray for each of those left behind that must, every day, find a way to find peace in a heart filled with so much memory and pain. Today, we recognize and give our most sincere thanks and appreciation to all those that selflessly worked Ground Zero on that day and in months to come helping find loved ones and bringing order to the sudden chaos ensued; acts of human generosity to which many have been paid with subsequent years of physical and emotional pain, sometimes death.
I remember that day vividly from the very first news report at 8:45 a.m. that a plane had hit one of the towers. I never imagined it to be a commercial airliner and never would've imagined the many turns that day would take and how it would ultimately end. From the first frantic call to loved ones who worked in Building 7 - the third building to go down that day - to assure of their safety, to the bombardment of images being televised of the blinding, enveloping smoke and flames and people jumping out of windows in manic desperation to their deaths, to the subsequent attacks in Washington, to the downing of a jet fueled by the selfless acts of passengers who refused to be pawns in a deadly game against their own, and finally to the imploding finality of the two towers that would no longer stand sentry -- all of this, all of this in the course of of one day, overwhelmed and put us all in a state of shock. Day after day, images of people and cars covered with the ash of death, the daily rise of victims lost, the grateful acts of those found alive, the selfless acts of police, firefighters, iron workers, medical personnel, volunteers and the countless organizations that were there to help suddenly became our norm. We were suddenly thrust into a world of chaos, in a blink of an eye, without knowing the reason why. Yet, in the midst of this tragedy, something wonderful happened: we no longer saw each other as a people of different color or race. We all became one, standing together, united, in support of one another against something that was so much bigger than us. We all became a family and as is the case in all families, when tragedy strikes, all is forgiven and we stand united to grief and remind each other that in times like these, our humanity always trumps our beliefs. And that is something our enemy did not count on, that is something that is inherent in us as human beings.
And finding myself days later, exhausted from the images and unable to fully express in words what I felt, I did what I usually do at times when words fail, I sit and write and let the unconscious filter through and speak its truth to free me from the powerlessness that I feel. I sat and at the moment my finger hit the first key, all came out, unfiltered, uncensored, without fear. I needed to hear what my silence wanted to scream and I was afraid to hear. And in the dawning of a new day, I sat and wrote these words:
I WILL NOT BE COWED BY FEAR NOR PARALYZED BY ANGER
I am no longer fearful.
On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, whatever internal fears I'd kept company with disintegrated in the dust of mortar that malevolently covered a people caught off guard. My being shattered into tiny pieces along with the destruction of thousands of lives slain and victimized by another's ideology. The portals of Hell opened and victims whose screams of anguish we'll hear and remember in perpetuity, revealed to us that day that our lives, in a blink of an eye, could be so easily and unexpectedly extinguished.
Though we are all well aware that accidents and tragedies can and will happen, we nonetheless live our lives in a state of illusion - a deceptive self-preservation mechanism that leads us to believe we are in control. But on that fateful day, the message was loud and clear: we have no control over our lives and how foolish and egotistical of us to believe otherwise. We plan our futures with the belief that our stay here will be long and fruitful because that is the way we are wired, to hope and dream and believe that fortune will always follow us wherever we go. However, on September 11, thousands of innocent people never got to see those hopes and dreams come to fruition, they never got to see another tomorrow.
The people in America right now are experiencing an overall sense of malaise. We have not yet begun to assimilate that which is incomprehensible. Anger and depression are holding center court. Some are angered by the secretive enchroachment of a group that assimilated themselves into our society feigning a false sense of love for our country while meticulously preparing for the day of our destruction. Others are blaming our naivete, yet it has always been the policy of our nation to extend a helping and welcoming hand to all who enter. But collectively we are all now aware of the consequences to come. In God we trust; in people we trust? It is a sad day because the lesson has been learned.
And I am sad but I am not angry. In times of crisis, I am hardly ever angry. In times of crisis I become quiet and introspective and begin to internally deconstruct a situation that has been forced upon me to find its solution. No, I am not angry because anger begets anger and it is not problem-solving. When angry, people make foolish decisions and make grievous mistakes. This is a time where calm, critical thinking should reign. This is a time where we need to still our minds so that we may hear what our silence so sagely wants to advice.
And, I am saddened...
I am saddened because in this great country of ours that stands for Freedom, anger has alit on our land and has deceptively introduced itself to our people, but I am confident that we shall overcome.
I am saddened that we will now see danger and mistrust lurking behind innocent middle-eastern faces who were never a part of our destruction, but I am secure in the fact that in time our eyes will open themselves to the truth.
I am saddened of the retribution our government will take in defense of this senseless act, but sadly understand that we are left no other choice.
I am saddened that our way of life and liberty has now taken on a new face, but realize that it is a necessity if we are to survive.
I am saddened that living in the land of the free, I had taken for granted the blessings of our freedom and forgotten that this is not the way for so many others, and so ask God for his forgiveness for being so righteous and blind.
Yes, I am sad, not angry. I will not allow the very emotion that gave birth to this monstrous act that espoused a distorted sense of belief consume me. My self will not express it. I watch the news and see countries applauding in the face of our ruin. I see children cheering in the aftermath of the destruction. The amoral behaviour is what disturbs me, makes me uneasy, makes me feel threatened, but it does not anger me. It saddens me because I realize there are never any winners in a game of hate and retribution.
And, I am no longer fearful. I am no longer fearful because whatever will happen will happen without my knowledge and contribution and it is outside of my control. I cannot control what our country or another country will do, yet I cannot live in a state of perpetual fear over this, a fear of the unknown.
No, I will not be cowed by fear or be paralyzed by anger. Instead, I will continue to live my life as I always have with optimism and continue to pray for peace, acceptance and understanding because until we choose to achieve these things, history will continue to repeat itself. And I will continue to pray for our humanity because humanity and hate cannot coexist in the same heart and it is in this, in the changing of one person's thoughts, personal views and tenets, that change ultimately comes.