Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11 Memories and Lessons

Out of the flood of reactions to 9/11 there are two that I never forget.

The first of these reactions came several days afterwards. Someone called in to a radio talk show and for the what must have been the one hundredth time, said that the September 11 tragedy helped put our small, insignificant lives in perspective.

A while later, another caller said that we should stop calling referring to our lives 'small and insignificant'. Our lives, no matter how routine, no matter how important or unimportant they may be considered, are the only lives we have and 9/11 teaches us that all of our lives are precious and fragile.

Secondly, a newspaper article which focused on some of the debris which fell from the towers. Amid all the rubble someone found a charred-edge letterhead fragment. It simply read, '...America Inc...'. The reporter said, that this was, in some since a metaphor for how we had begun to think of our country, "America Inc". Some in this country had begun to view our nation as a 'country corporation' of sorts. What we rediscovered on 9/11, was our common humanity, our nation as a community of people.

Every now and then, we have to be reminded of both truths. We only have the lives we live. They may not make history's timeline, nor are the life events of most of us recorded in today's headlines, but they are our lives. They are precious, fragile, ours and they count.

We need to remember that America may 'conduct business', but we are more than 'America Inc.'
We are a community of people, important to one another. Dependent upon one another. Without one another, there is no country.

To whatever degree America is a 'business', it is a 'people business'. To love America is to love more than an ideology, a heritage or a history. To love America is to love its people.

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