Monday, September 11, 2006

Where Has Our Unity Gone? September 11th - Five Years Later

It was September 11th five years ago today. We all witnessed one of the nations darkest days in history as terrorists forever changed life as we know it. I still remember sitting in my conference room with my staff as we watched the horror unfold on a tiny little television and the utter shock and disbelief that overcame us all as we watched the first tower fall. Then it was the second tower. The ashen faces of my colleagues will be forever etched in my mind as total and udder confusion and fear draped us all like a dark, cold blanket.

The depth of the cruelty and hatred which is firmly affixed on our country was, and still is, hard for me to comprehend. Naive as it may seem, our country had always stood, in my mind at least, as a symbol of what is right and what is truly possible. We were a beacon for so many countries and yet someone had reached in and shaken this massive super power to its barest core. It was chilling to know that terrorism which I seldom paid attention to on the evening news was now happening right here in my back yard. It scared me. I think it scared all of us.

There is little positive we can gleam from such horrendous acts but there were some. On that particular day, my staff seemed to huddle together like a real family. We seemed to care about one another just a little bit more from that day forward. We found reasons to be closer; even some who seemed devoid of personal emotion let down their walls and allowed people in. We got to know one another which in hindsight seemed odd since many of us had worked together for years. However, just working together wasn’t enough. Had it ever been?

I noticed this closeness was happening all around. I remember coming home that night after work and a group of my neighbors were outside. That was a first. They seemed to be milling about needing to connect with someone other than CNN and somehow like stupefied zombies, they had left their homes and discovered one another. It was incredibly humbling to see the raw emotions of people that I rarely saw and barely knew. As details throughout the day confirmed that the acts were of a terrorist nature, it was amazing to see how many people, like me, felt vulnerable and scared.

People everywhere seemed to unite. I saw our society, at least for a time, change. We were one with one another. We eliminated our every day filters and collectively came together. We set aside political differences. We set aside religious differences. We comforted each other. We mourned with one another. For a short time, we were united as one.

Five years have passed since that fateful day. Terrorism hasn’t diminished despite what I believe is our best efforts. In fact it is worse in most areas. Our country I believe, though more aware, has fallen back into the old habit of complacency which makes me concerned that we are even more vulnerable today than ever.

I also wonder where our unity has gone. For a period of time, a complete stranger was a friend because, united, we were nothing if we weren’t Americans. We were nicer to one another standing in line at the grocery store. We smiled at people as they approached us on the street. We helped people who need helping. We gave hugs to complete strangers. We were there for one another.

As I sit at Starbucks this morning, people are going about their Monday morning routines as I suspect they normally do. It was 7:46AM, the time the first plane hit the first tower and no one stopped. No one looked up or seemed to notice. No one reached out. No one was offering hugs today.

I smiled in vain at a couple too wrapped up in their work to care or truly notice. A woman with here small child who wasn’t even here five years ago is too wrapped up in her paper to notice just how truly precious he is and just how infectious his smile will be. A man sitting in the chair next to me is talking football with a buddy on his cell phone and damning the Cowboys for the loss.

Nothing! Not one person seemed to stop and at least acknowledge one another. How tragic.

Five years ago today, almost to the minute, our lives were forever changed. But today, five years later, do we remain as united? Did we allow those changes to teach us a lesson? I fear not….on so many levels.

Where has our unity gone?

Reach out and connect with someone today. Don’t let it be some major tragedy that brings us together. I submit we need to be the ray of light. We need to set the example. We need to do it every single day!!!

God bless all those who were affected in any way, shape or form by 9/11.

That, I hope, is every single one of us!

Ripple on and help us unite again my friends!!!

Steve Harper

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