“…imagine all the people, living life in peace…” ~ John Lennon
When tragedy strikes, people think of loved ones, a life blessed with memories, and the fleeting thoughts of dreams yet to be. As people stopped to grab a morning cup of coffee, rush off to their next meeting, or send their children off to school, how could anyone have anticipated the terror that would follow?
On September 11, 2001, coordinated attacks took the lives of 2,977 people in New York City, Washington, D.C., and outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Sometimes we try to distance ourselves from the suffering that occurs every day to people just like us. We turn away, pretend it does not affect us, until one day, it does. We may not know their names, understand their beliefs, or share the same interests, but we all have families, friends, and dreams.
On September 11th, in a matter of hours, the world population was reduced by 2,977 people. In the middle of the rubble, anguish, and pain, we struggled to understand why. How can perspectives become so polarized that the only perceived solution is death at the hands of individuals who appear just like us? We are all people. We all seek happiness. We seek a better life, a chance to change a corner of our world, and if we’re lucky, to share this life with those we love.
Have we done enough to try and understand? The terror attacks on September 11th are the result of a larger symptomatic problem. There were a lot of little decisions, conversations, and disagreements that led to this senseless attack.
Eighteen years later, we think terror attacks are a world away, but we face very real pain, hurt, and anger as we continue to read news on persisting racial tensions, bullying, sexual assault, and mass murders. Do we avoid confronting and responding to these important issues because they do not directly affect us? Because if it happens to one, it happens to us all.
We need to make time to educate ourselves on perspectives across all points of view. We need to understand for ourselves the why behind the problem. What we discover may not end in agreement, but it should provide an opportunity to see unimaginable tragedy as a chance to change the way we respond, not out of hate, but in honor of those who lost their lives.
We need to remember that 2,977 is not a number, they are people. People the world tragically and needlessly lost on September 11th when 19 individuals lost sight of their humanity and the fact that they were people too.