In remembering the events of September 11th, ten years ago, the emotions I experienced, I find I want to give voice to the way it changed me.
All month, at the suggestion that we bloggers write about where we were on September 11th, 2001, I’ve been revising a post about the events, and how that affected me. Though I’ve spent a lot of time on that post, it’s hard to share it. It seems so focused on a point in time, one where confusion reigned, and where, for a while at least, it looked like the terrorists had achieved their goal of inciting fear and confusion in the hearts of our nation.
In remembering the events of September 11th, ten years ago, the emotions I experienced, I find I want to give voice to the way it changed me. It marked what was already a milestone time in my life with something that stunned me in disbelief. I responded at the time by closing down, by fearing the new world that time was ushering me in to, and feeling very, very lost.
From my earliest memories, I have always been taught to love. My family, my friends, the people around me, the creatures and plants that share this planet with us. I was first venturing out into the world on my own when the planes struck the towers, and what was a world of friendly faces on September 10th, became a world of menacing strangers overnight. There were people who hated our country and what it stood for, and were compelled to act violently against us. There were also people within our country who returned the hatred out of fear. Though I was not a target of the reactions of some of our countrymen, I did not escape being affected by it.
Around me, I saw people regard one another with suspicion, making judgments based on traits they could see and infer, without understanding or interpreting what they saw. I did not fear Muslims, as what I’d studied of their faith had led me to recognize that the events of 9/11 were actions of extremists, and did not represent the mainstream views. Though I did not fear people of different faiths or nationalities, I did fear the hatred that I was witnessing, the stories that were unfolding of acts of violence far smaller in scope, but no less terrifying for their senselessness.
When the planes crashed, the lives of many were affected by the actions of few. This illustrates how profoundly we can impact the world around us. Though the actions that taught this lesson are horrific and unjustifiable, if there can be even the faintest glimmer of a silver-lining, it’s that we can see it as a call to replace any anger, distrust, or hatred that we feel with compassion, respect and love.
For me, opening my heart to the world took a couple of false starts. A few tries in which I’d feel connected to the people around me, but then I’d feel afraid of the risks I was taking. Is it okay to just love a stranger? Is it safe to see past the traits that scare other people, and decide to be someone’s friend for as long as we’re sharing the same airspace?
I’m still exploring that idea — as I probably will for the rest of my life — learning what is comfortable, and what is a comfortable stretch. The experiences I’ve had as a result are surreal in nature – elements in time in which I connect with people due to chance and circumstance. It’s led to some interesting conversations on the bus, or in line at the market – some where perspectives shared have further changed the way I relate to the world, giving me more food for thought. (And others where I think that maybe… maybe it’s okay to have some time to myself when someone is going out of their way to make me feel uncomfortable. I don’t need to connect with everyone who crosses my path.)
What the events of 9/11 have taught me is that we can connect with one another to erase fear. We can love one another to erase violence. That the more we get to know the people around us and around the world, the less reasons we have to be frightened. September 11th set me on a journey to connect with the faith I’ve found within myself, this sense that no matter what happens, as long as the actions that I am committing are good, that I will be okay. That as long as I’m waking up each morning, I can choose to greet what the world shares with me with an open heart.
If the lives of many are affected by the actions of few…
This is probably what has led me to the credit union Movement; the founding principles are based in cooperation, and when we are working together to commit acts of love, compassion, and kindness… I believe we’ll see the world become a better place, one that is unrecognizable from where we were at ten years ago. One that will continue to magnify goodness around it. One in which we can feel excited to uncover the next ten years.
Sasha may be the shyest social person you’ll ever meet. She joined Verity in 2009, with a couple years in the Credit Union Movement already tucked under her belt (amidst coffee-making and bagel-slinging, running a non-profit, and trying her hand at farming).
An eternal optimist (except, you know, when she’s not), she enjoys exploring her surroundings and having adventures with friends; yoga, running, reading, writing, and good food. Though not a remarkable cook, she is nonetheless a sincere one and admits she’d be better if there were three more hours in every day. When not doing one of the many activities mentioned in the previous two sentences, she counts herself lucky to be peacefully at home, cuddling with her partner and their cat.