Today is 9/11/2010 . . . a full nine years since ‘the world stopped turning,’ as Alan Jackson aptly puts it in his song. The common blog theme and Facebook status update on this date always seems to focus on where we were when we learned of the terrorist attacks on our nation. All of us have a story about that, some more compelling than others, but all equally personal.
While I’m tempted to write about my own such story in this space, today I’ll seek to answer a different and perhaps more important question: “Where are you now?” And I don’t mean physically or geographically.
Today I’m more of a lot of things.
I’m a more observant person . . . much more sensitive to issues of safety and security. I’m also far less likely to think, “Oh, that (whatever that may be) couldn’t happen here.” It did once. It can again.
I’m a more grateful person . . . much more aware of the people who help keep me and my family safe on a daily basis. The 9-1-1 dispatchers, the police officers, the firefighters, the paramedics, the troopers, etc. Like the sashing of a quilt, these men and women provide an invaluable and often overlooked framework for our communities. I’m also more grateful for those who boldly serve in our military — defending our freedom and seeking to provide stability to nations abroad.
I’m a more humble person . . . much more understanding that there are very few things in life over which I have control. God has the whole world in His hands, just as the childhood song explains.
I’m a more driven person . . . much more appreciative of the urgency of this life. Every moment counts. Every relationship matters.
I’m a more compassionate person . . . much more able to experience the thoughts, stories, and situations of others — even those with whom I strongly disagree.
I’m a more expressive person . . . much more willing to say, ‘I love you,’ ‘I’m sorry,’ ‘Will you forgive me?’ Perhaps this dovetails with that sense of urgency I mentioned earlier.
I’m a more informed person . . . much more able to identify particularly with those who were in New York City at the time of the attacks on the World Trade Center. There’s nothing like seeing the vast barrenness of Ground Zero with your own eyes, as I did early last year. And to think that two huge towers once stood there, tall and proud, each an integral party of the city’s skyline.
Today I’m also less of a lot of things.
I’m less bothered by those airport security procedures. They’re far from perfect, but hopefully they are helping keep us safe.
I’m less tolerant of those who are bothered by my own patriotism. If you don’t like our country, then feel free to find a new one. And by all means, don’t waste your time trying to ‘radically transform’ mine.
I’m less concerned with people’s reactions to my emotions. Sometimes I’m sad. Sometimes I cry. It’s all a normal part of the human experience.
I’m less trusting of our news media and our government. There seems to me an amazing disconnect between those covering the news and those experiencing it . . . between those making laws and those who are stuck living with them.
I’m less committed to a particular political party and more devoted to the specific values I hold dear.
I’m less convinced that my children’s lifestyle will be better than my own — and more accepting of the notion that perhaps it doesn’t need to be.
I’m less passionate about advancing my individual goals and more mindful of my role in advancing God’s Kingdom. I’m also even more confident of His loving care, sovereign hand, and constant companionship in these uncertain days.
Yes, things are definitely different than they were nine years ago. Some of these differences are probably due to the natural process of aging and maturity; some of them are no doubt due to the previously unimaginable events of September 11, 2001.
Each of us processes things uniquely. We all draw our own conclusions, nurture our own beliefs, and devise our own coping strategies.
One thing though is true for all of us: We will never be the same.
IT’S YOUR TURN!
What’s different for you nine years later? How have you changed?