My recollections on this day are not unique or special in any way. My viewpoint of it in real time was far removed from those in it, those who were impacted directly by it, whether by death, injury, survival, by being a bystander just caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, or as someone who lost someone they loved, cared about, or knew, or someone who helped in the thick of it; or one of those who helped in the aftermath. Theirs are the stories that should be heard.
Mine will be truncated. I lived in Chicago at the time, with a loved one working downtown, whose life and safety was in question as I tried in vain to contact while phone lines were jammed…but I lost no one; Chicago and many other major cities were spared after fearing the worst: how many more? When will this end? Where will someone strike next?
As a nation, we were shaken to the core. This doesn’t happen here.
Thousands of stories were revealed in the hours, days, weeks months and years that followed. They began to be increasingly inspiring, miraculous, encouraging in the midst of great tragedy that also unfolded chapter by chapter. We began to witness the kinship that a nation in tragedy feels for each other: the neighbors helping neighbors, strangers helping strangers. In the places most affected, these accounts were so unprecedented in my own lifetime. I remembered my parents recounting how almost everyone in the nation worked together “for our boys” during WWII when they were kids, and I wondered if this was going to be like that was.
The human goodwill was infectious to other parts of the country. It seemed everyone had less than six degrees of separation from it. And we could relate to each other like humans should…for a while.
In the twenty years since, we as a nation, with exceptions of course, seem to have lost our gratitude, our empathy, our priorities, and our civility. We have largely lost our unity. Much of it was from political polarization and I’m not taking sides because I will not affiliate with any party; I feel none is worthy. Many other nations of the world shakes their heads at our hypocrisy. We are more divided than ever.
Many of us have forgotten. And will again. We need to be reminded.
Perhaps all of the memorials and remembrances today on the media are viewed by a few as overly sentimental, trite, obligatory, even propagandist. I do not. At any rate, I try to take something good out of anything and if possible, at the very least, a lesson or three.
I’m not astute enough to work in government. I cannot draft deft policy. I cannot change the world. But I can choose to check my own attitude, to not be misled or decide without due diligence, to not grow complacent and jaded, to be mindful of Who or what I come to worship and make corrections as necessary.
And if my view seems dark for a self-professed Christian, keep in mind two things: I am yet a fledgling in this walk, and all Christians are fallible and exist in the dichotomy of trying to transcend human imperfection while very much still shackled to it in this life. My eyes are open.
I’m just an artist. I can just make images, songs, poems, pleas for others to do the same daily fresh-slate commitment to reprioritize, to care, to love more, to make the most of life in the areas that count. But we as a species are easily distracted. Myopic beings that we are, it is astonishing how difficult it is to focus on what’s truly important. Don’t give up. Recommit. Recommit. Every day, recommit.
We need reminding.
All content © 2021 L. Eilee S. George, all rights reserved.