Honor, Never Forget
What is important to remember if we want to Honor the lives of the people who died on September 11, 2001?
I was in Jamaica, before my son was born. Sally called me at our home. I was sleeping because we were opening a new restaurant in the airport and it had been a late night. She had the TV’s on and a restaurant full of people waiting for their flights out of Montego Bay, home.
She said ” You have to come in, something’s happened, the Towers have been hit and are burning”. I didn’t understand what she was talking about but when I arrived 30 minutes later the people were all watching the TV’s. Everything had stopped, it was so painful and I didn’t know it at the time how painful it was because I was in shock. But sitting here, today, and going back, I can feel the pain.
It’s a human pain. A pain beyond and below the scope of my every day life. An important pain that I didn’t see or feel back then. There was too much emotion, too much confusion, too much fear to look at the pain and experience it as the gift that it truly is.
The people who died that day, who were killed that day, I don’t think they would want me to be afraid. I don’t think they would want me to be angry at my son, my wife, my friends, my enemies. I don’t think they would want revenge. I don’t think they would tell me to kill to destroy or to use fear as a structure for accomplishment or movement or policy.
What would these people want? What is important to remember about this day, about what it can provide each human, each of us, if we are seekers, if we want peace, if we want to Honor the lives of the people who died.
I will not guess for you. For me, the gift of September 11th is my own personal connection with pain that the tragedy provides. That pain is not terrible. It’s is complete and destroying but it is not terrible. It destroys my ego and my pride, as it did to the whole world and to a city that day, people got underneath their fears, their desires, their anger, their violence. People, once again or maybe for the first time, remembered their human brothers and were united in their pain, the pain of life and the pain of loss, the pain that is alwasy with us, no matter how much we try to forget.
Fear is a normal, human response to life. It’s programmed, it’s necessary at times but it is not a basis from which to honor life or to honor those that died that day. Unfortunately (or perhaps now is the time…) we’ve let the fear wash back over us like a tide and we’ve been swept and have swept others into a realm that is not honoring of life and of the tragedy.
I hope today, as you think about 9/11, that you use your mind to connect you back to the pain of that day. Not the anger, not the fear…the pain that unites us all as humans. That is my honor today and I will do it and I will cry and sob at the pain of humanity and of what we have done to each other and continue to do and at the hope of redemption for myself and for us all and for the remembering of the sanctity of life above all. I will see fear lapping at the shores of my humanity and I will put my little boat on the sea, and sail out to explore and honor life.
“This world of ours… must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.”
-Dwight D. Eisenhower
“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
“When even one American – who has done nothing wrong – is forced by fear to shut his mind and close his mouth – then all Americans are in peril.”
-Harry S. Truman
“In politics, what begins in fear usually ends in folly.”
“Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.”
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
-Frank Herbert, Dune – Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear