Yes, today is a day to remember, relive, reflect on, and mourn. People in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania are holding moments of silence to mark the instants their lives were changed five years ago.
One could—and should—consider the ordinariness of the instants that preceded the terrible crashes.
One could—but should not—succumb to cynicism upon this reflection. Each moment holds infinite possibilities for peace, love, connection, renewal, and forgiveness.
On this Sept 11, I'd like to commemorate the day by remembering the moment of possibility that followed—the moment when the whole world grieved for "us," the people of the United States of America, who were stunned and then utterly overwhelmed by the enormity of the catastrophe.
There was a moment—do you remember it?—when the whole world was "on our side."
We had the chance, in that moment, to make changes that might have made our world a little less scary. Unfortunately, our “leaders” instead launched a war without end that some might argue has made “us” the most terrifying nation in the world. True, this “war on terror” is only one of many ways our “leaders” and country commit the world to chaos, rather than community.
From one perspective, the war on terror is the global forum through which we act out our infantile rage at being made so vulnerable (or made to recognize our vulnerability). That humanizes the official reaction a little, maybe.
But, I suggest we don’t go that route. The “war on terror,” is not being conducted in the heat of psychological trauma. Even if it started out that way (which I would argue it didn’t), the “war on terror” is the product of calculated policy-making to advance an agenda envisioned long before the World Trade Center and Pentagon were struck by airplanes. They may have capitalized on our fear, but they knew what they were doing.
We need to respond with similar clarity and resolve. Our responses need to strategically advance our alternative agenda.
Can we who oppose the current trajectory somehow get back to that moment of possibility just after the attacks? Can we mine that moment for some new approach? Can we go deep enough into the heart of hope to reconnect with the world that so empathized with us on that day?
I think we have to. It is our only hope.