Days occur sporadically that just bring about a deep sense of the feels. There’s no pattern or trigger, just a sudden rush of deep overwhelming feels. When you make an effort to carry out all your emotions for the experience of being true to your own inner voice, feeling days can be nearly suffocating. Not necessarily unmanageable, but they definitely don’t make the navigation of the present enjoyable.
As such, I was sitting at a countertop in one of my (now busy) alleyway cafes. The sun was out and the morning was quite pleasant. I could feel myself beginning to feel. Water became more distinguishable. I could feel every gulp and had noticed the way it rolled around my tongue. My feet were pulsing for the heated walk over.
I watched an elderly lady, purple rayon outfit hanging loosely off her slumped body, shuffle down the street. Each step reflected in the corners of her lips, hands gripping her cane of an umbrella as if letting go would break a resolve of making it work.
The past few days had been filled with statuses of mudslinging, hate, negativity, and unknown reluctance. It’s not just American politics, it’s a global acceptance to spewing poison in the name of expression. I sink a bit when words are so twisted to justify a lack of decency in the conscious attempt to create barriers. Words are vehicles, not bricks. But all I felt was stone after stone of hate showering all around me. Videos of beheadings, little boys washing ashore, refugees walking hot streets unwelcomed, comments on the special places in hell for lifestyles and faiths, and more.
The breaking point was a picture, a well-intentioned picture, of a man falling head-first by his own choice, in a rather limited selection of options, on September 11th. My opinion on whether the picture should have been used as a memorial to the tragedy of 9/11 is not significant. What is significant is the larger tragedy this photo unveils. The long term tragedy: In our unitedness, we became indifferent to true freedom and less together than ever before as well as perfectly accustom to introducing negativity into the lives of others.
I don’t ever really talk of 9/11. I was in 6th grade. I had no idea as to what 90% of the places, events, and actors were that made up that day. I wasn’t old enough or connected enough to know, but I was old enough to understand. My age gave me insight. Not about the motivations or historical backgrounds or the future narratives, but about the level of hate we will tolerate. Hate brewed, hate brought down more than two towers, and hate disguised itself as hope and unity to retaliate. That’s the biggest tragedy. Every day, we preach hate and intolerance in our every day lives. Hate knocked on our door on 9/11 like a giant beast, and we took that beast in to use as our own shield and weapon. However, like all beasts, they cannot be tamed and they will turn on you.
And it has. We love the destinations of the world, but hate the people. We want travel mileage and passport stamps, but we don’t want lifestyles or cultures different from our own. We need to locate, group, and eliminate the notion of the ‘other’ in order to establish the existence and validation of an ‘us.’ The beast has poisoned our own air and we are indifferent to the toxins running in our veins and the negativity we sink into the lives of others.
Admitting you are wrong or that there is a right beyond your own sense of right can feel like choosing to fall head-first. But sometimes, having your hand in the process is more meaningful than hiding behind the chances of the universe. The beast is here, we let him in, and we must now choose to let it destroy us or to do the unimaginable acts to right the injustices done to us.
Some of the greatest acts throughout history were sacrifices made by the already marginalized, targeted, or suffering. Sometimes, setting justice and morality into process means increasing injustice and suffering in ourselves, even if we were already the victims. By making a decision, we retain our power and voice, rather than giving that precious authority to an instrument of hate.
True unity means reaching across borders as much as it means vowing to spread positive energy and empowerment in your immediate circle. True faith means having hope in others to choose their own paths that lead to peace, not homogeneity.
Today I feel. I feel because we have allowed our standards to be as shattered as Ground Zero. It’s time to rebuild our standards and hold ourselves more accountable for the values we claim to live by. I cried over my sadness feels because today, 14 years later, we are steering our own planes straight into the hearts of the lives others are building.