Sunday, September 11, 2011

Two Memorials, Two Issues, One Feeling

I hope you will all forgive me today, but this is not a testing blog entry. Instead, it's my dealing with feelings of this past weekend and two days that will forever be branded into my memory.

September 11th, 2001 has become synonymous with terror and destruction in the American psyche. We saw on that day the worst of what the human mind can accomplish. We also saw something else, too; the heroism and bravery of firefighters, police, emergency response teams and others and the sacrifices they made to save who they could, knowing they might doom themselves to share the same fate as so many others. The decade that has followed has had its own challenges and issues, some of which have borne good fruit and some other we may well wonder if it was all worth it in the final analysis (which is far from conclusive at this point, and besides, this isn't a political blog, it's a testing blog).

There's another anniversary that is remembered two days earlier than this as well, and it also reminds me of the tragedies of life, but also the immense heroism of our own firefighters, police, emergency response teams and others. On September 9th, 2010 a gas main ruptured in my little town of San Bruno, CA, claiming many lives and scores of homes in a neighborhood adjacent to my own. While the 09/11 attack was devastating and heartbreaking, these were people who were 3000 miles away, and that I had little direct and personal connection with. The events of 09/09 were practically in my backyard, and had a devastating effect on people and families that I personally know and care for and about.

As I look back on these two days now, I could choose to focus my anger and, yes, maybe even hatred towards those who were responsible for these occurrences (09/11 being a direct attack, 09/09 being a tragic but perhaps all too avoidable accident), but in truth, anger and hatred don't change anything. They don't make anything better. They don't make us better. So today, as we consider the tenth anniversary of 09/11 and I also consider the first anniversary of 09/09, my question is the same for both... what can we learn from this? How can we make ourselves better people in light of this? Again, I have no interest in trumpeting a political solution or shilling for a political answer. I much believe that the real power to combat these things is in our local hands and in our direct interactions with people. I do not pretend that there are not great forces that are looking to take advantage of these situations, but those are outside of my circle of influence, and there is precious little I can do there anyway. No, the only place I have any effect is in my own direct interactions with people.

It's my desire today that we focus on each other as people, as friends, and mourners, and as those who have loved and lost and are rebuilding our lives, in the ways we know best. Help those around you rebuild, give them a shoulder to cry on, let them know you are there for them, and most importantly, do not forget these things. A populace that forgets its history is doomed to repeat it.

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