09/24/2001 The Aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001
The tragic events of Sep. 11 left people around the world to deal with a variety of emotions--shock at the boldness of such an attack, horror at the massive damage caused, anger at the way we had been violated, but mostly, pain and sadness at the incredible loss of life to our brothers and sisters in the World Trade Center.
My personal connection to the events was fairly significant:
I was born and raised in New York City, and at one time in my life worked a few blocks from where the disaster hit. However, that doesn't remotely approach the painful experience of those personally touched by the tragedy--the families that have lost a mom, dad, child, relative or friend. Starting now, they will look at their lives as having 2 distinct periods: what life was like BEFORE Sept. 11, 2001, and what it became after that, as they attempt to piece together a reason to exist in light of what has befallen them.
And as they try to cope with their grief and find a way to go on living, all of us in one way or another are trying to get some perspective on what has happened, what it signifies, and what the future holds. And so we ("we" meaning ourselves as individuals, as a community, as a country, and as a civilization) are reacting to the tragedy in ways that suggest an attempt to make some or logic out of what happened.
And to react accordingly. As a result, we are hearing things like, "this was the result of poor security and intelligence and security, so we must have better intelligence and security"; "they bombed us, so we must strike back in revenge"; "they destroyed a symbol of economic power, so we must rebuild something on that spot". While I won't comment on these reactions, I will say that it is doubtful that reactions such as these will allow us to truly attain the healing we all need to go on and recover from this disaster.
True healing, true comfort, and true rebuilding must start from somewhere much deeper inside us. St. Jude's Letter in the New Testament has some words we may take to heart. He spoke to early Christians at a time when their faith was severely tested; they were being persecuted, and were being subjected to false religious teachings. Many lost hope and didn't see how they could go on. St. Jude urged them to be strong during these difficult circumstances, particularly when outsiders have "infiltrated among you". He told them the key was to use their Holy Faith as a foundation to build on, and to become symbols of courage by living lives founded on prayer, faith in God, and love of their neighbors. And he reminded them of what those who came before them had endured, and to use them as an inspiration to be strong and continue their struggle.
And so it seems that as we ask where and how to begin again, the answer is clear. We must first start by rebuilding from within. For it is only then that, in light of these events, we can carry on in a way that returns some true meaning to our lives, while remembering those who have been taken from us.
Warmest Regards, Daniel