Monday, Sept. 11, 2006

It has been five years. Five very quick and five very long years since September 11, 2001. We have each witnessed healing; in our personal lives, in our nation and across our globe. And we have each witnessed continued pain and hatred; in our personal lives, our nation and across our globe.

As I've watched the continued reporting leading up to the fifth anniversary coverage, I continue to wonder if our world is any more peaceful than it was before that gentle morning was ripped wide open and some of our gentleness and innocence stripped away.

So what can be said, after five years later?

During the days following the tragedy of September 11, I took a few moments to reflect on what I might have to say to my then three-year-old son Leo. And now five years later, I reflect again on what I might have to eventually say to my now three-year-old triplets Emily, Hannah and Nicholas. What do I say then? Most likely the very same thing I wrote just days following our nation's worst day...


What Do I Say?
In Memory of September 11, 2001

The images are inescapable. The horror is unexplainable. So what do I say to my child?

How do I possibly explain to him the rationale behind human actions that could produce such massive pain and suffering? And what young child could possibly grasp the horrific tragedy and the twisted motivation behind it? I’m not sure I can fully grasp this moment in all its sorrow and pain. So what can I possibly say to my child?

What do I say to my child when he recognizes the expressions of despair, anger, frustration and extreme sorrow on my face? And how can I explain to him the unexplainable connection I feel to thousands of lives I’ve never known and faces I’ve never met? How can I begin to understand it myself?

It is in these difficult questions that I realize there still remains a young child within me as well; staring up with wondering and questioning eyes. And just as important, what do I say to this child within?

What do I say to this child inside that still wants to believe that we shouldn’t – regardless of age - hit, kick, spit at or bite another person?

What do I say to this child inside that still wants to believe that we should – regardless of color or creed - play fair, share, treat others as we would want to be treated, and trust one another?

What do I say to this child inside that still wants to believe – regardless of faith - that saying evening prayers and wishing on stars can somehow make everything okay?

What do I say to this child inside that still wants to believe that there still is – regardless of upbringing - good in every person?

Tonight I’ll take my child, hug him tightly and offer him this attempt of my simple understanding and faith:

“Yes, my child, sometimes bad things happen, but many more good things happen much more often. I still believe it is the greatness of God that brings all these good things into being and it is the depth of God that is able to understand and support us during these bad things.

And yes, my child, sometimes people do bad things, but so many more people do so many good things. I still believe it is the goodness of our divine spirit that will always overcome the evil of our human action. It is the God within that is the good that remains in each of us.

And yes, I still believe God does and wants only good things for all people and because of that, everything will be okay. For beyond our wishing stars, God most definitely hears all the simple prayers of our heart and is already answering them.

And, in spite of all that has happened or is about to happen, I still believe we are eternally connected to one another – regardless of political or geographic boundaries - by our hope and our humanity. And it is in this humanity, we still need to be nice to one another.”

Perhaps for the child grasping onto my leg and the child within grasping at my heart, that’s all that can be said.