Honoring The Victims of 9/11 In The Wake Of More Violence
Wednesday September 12th 2012, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Liberty!, NYC

Reider’s Note: For this year’s anniversary of 9/11, I didn’t want to link to the account I wrote eleven years ago about that day, as I’ve done many times over the past ten years. I wrote and rewrote this entry several times yesterday, but I felt it was just too lofty. So I decided to scrap it.

I woke up this morning to news of attacks on the American embassies in Egypt and Libya, in which four envoys were slaughtered. In several accounts today, it was said that Chris Stevens, the murdered American Ambassador to Libya, genuinely loved the Middle East, and sought to find common ground with those who detest America.

Loftiness be damned. This is really how I feel.

Eleven years ago, I experienced the worst day of my life. In the days and weeks that followed, I witnessed and felt grief unlike any I had known before. But I also witnessed the greatest of human compassion. For a brief, beautiful blink of an eye, the day-to-day pettiness of division that creeps into so many of our lives was nowhere to be seen nor heard. In the cold, miserable shadow of the loss of thousands of lives, of innocents and of heroes, of ordinary human beings just like you and me, we momentarily achieved something remarkable: we put ourselves aside and joined together.

We have a duty to continue honoring all the victims of that day, from those who perished as a result of a hijacked airplane to those who still suffer terribly from that day’s previously implausible carnage to those who have given their lives in its memory over the intervening years. To do so, we must honor the living. At first glance, differences that serve to alienate us from one another are much easier to see and to accept as the whole picture. By committing ourselves to the much more difficult task of actively seeking out those things we share in common, those things that bind us together as members of the same human race, we prove that we, the survivors, are capable of learning and growing and making ours into a better world.

As long as we exist, there will be unexpected terrors and tragedies. We should not look to define ourselves by how we try to circumvent these inevitable pains and sorrows. Rather, we should work on defining ourselves by how we choose to react to these things. We must fight the many impulses to surrender to cynicism, fear, anger, and contentedness with the world as it is. We must each, individually, grow beyond these seductive primal instincts, and come together in respect and mutual understanding and, yes, even in love–for more than just the fleeting blink of an eye. In doing so, we will prove that the cruel and violent hatred that so often accompanies intolerance, that obscene brutal force that destroyed so many lives on September 11, 2001, and continues to destroy so many lives today, does not control us.

That is how we truly honor the fallen.


1 Comment so far
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Glad you decided to post this! Hear hear!

Comment by Elan 09.13.12 @ 12:34 am

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