On 9/11/01, I was working in a TV newsroom and, when the first plane hit, we all assumed that it was just a horrible plane wreck. But when we watched the second plane hit the other tower—on the network’s raw news feed, as it was actually happening—I realized that this was deliberate. Some fresh hell was unfolding, and life would never be the same.
I was afraid that day, afraid that “Oh, shit, it’s really happening, the Doomsday that we’ve all been warned about that I didn’t take very seriously, it’s beginning.” Fearful thoughts tumbled through my mind, like dominoes falling on a path lined up toward devastation and destruction. I wondered how long it would take to reach the Midwest, where I was, and when the food rationing would begin. I worried about my kids and the world I had borne them into.
That day carried a very weird vibe. I went outside to have a cigarette, and noticed there were no cars, no birds, no squirrels—no life. It felt as though all of the energy, both positive and negative, had been sucked from the Isness and we were flat-lined: there was nothing … a void … not good or bad, just … a void.
But as I sat and smoked, I felt a small glimmer of hope. I hoped that this would finally be the last straw. I hoped that we, as a race, would finally see the futility of hate. I felt like Betsy Lou Who, from How the Grinch Stole Christmas, not allowing someone else’s nastiness to drain my heart of joy.
I felt a swell of gratitude for those generous souls who gave up their physical forms in this horrific event to illustrate where the path of hatred takes us. I hoped that this would be the straw that finally taught humanity that we can’t ever win a war against ourselves.
Unfortunately, that is not the path we took. We ended up in a war that included torture and videotaped decapitations. Man’s inhumanity to man was everywhere we looked, for years and years, goaded on by a fearful global population and government leaders who insisted that fighting hatred with hatred was the way to go.
It feels to me like the sacrifice made by thousands of souls was in vain. You know that song we sing in church, “Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.”? Can we do that yet? Can we honor that sacrifice by knocking this shit off and trying to get along?
That’s what I intend to do. On this day of remembrance, I thank and bless all of those who died in the attacks, the military troops and civilians who have died since then in battle and, yes, even the hijackers, for the most powerful message any soul can deliver—Do unto others, damn it, because you ARE doing unto yourself.
While so many mourn this day, others celebrate new life. My nephew and his wife just welcomed a new addition to the family this weekend. The cycle of life goes on. Welcome to the world, Liam. We hope to make it a better place for your generation.