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9-11 Remembered: Perspectives Gained Within Our Loss

Guest Blog

by Jeff Schoener

People world-wide are remembering 10 years later.

People are asking, where were you when it happened? 

On this a beautifully clear day, comfortable and pleasant, I walked into my office and sat at my desk.  Just two blocks away from the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, I and my colleagues heard the first plane strike.  We were stunned as we went to the window, five stories up, where we could see the gaping hole and the flames lick the side of the building.  A manager went into the conference room in order to turn on the news.  We at the time thought it was a horrible accident.  Then there was another muffled explosion which blew out the windows on the other side.  A short time later, the second strike on the second tower.  It dawned upon us that this was no accident.

As an eye witness without a telephone, at this point e-mail was the only communication means for us cloistered in our office.  The police kept us here, where we were out of both harm’s way and out of the way of the First Responders.   On Broadway, where we saw ticker-tape parades, Firemen and Police squads marched in military fashion in order to set up for their work of rescue and restoration.

Before people in my office were wondering why, they were first wondering if what they were witnessing was true.  “Is this really happening?” 

For the people who never witnessed this first hand, the media ran the plane strikes into the towers on a seemingly endless loop.

I think that in the fullness of time, while remembering the importance of the day, on a personal note, consider the following:

 What have you lost?

Did you lose a job?  Have you lost a loved one? Did you lose your direction in terms of career, of have you and your family the innocence of faith?   I know many people who found the wherewithal to rebuild and to begin again.  Some even created support networks as well as not for profit organization to honor and memorialize.

 What have you gained? 

In light of the loss, have you gained compassion and hope? Have you gained and expanded your understanding of yourself, your neighbors and situations that are not always black and white?  Have you gained a new resolve and strength or have you gained a fearful existence? In the subsequent daysI went around my office getting people beyond their fear and back into the flow of life.

Many others have taken their ‘loss’ as a reason to create something that will help themselves while helping others.  Take this moment in time and begin to answer questions in the light of the day.  Take this gift of time to fill any void with something creative and positive.  With this memory in mind, offer something to serve and sacrifice to another.    This will become a suitable tribute for those who sacrificed on that day.

Out of the ashes - rebuilding One World Trade Center

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The End of Osama bin Laden, the Beginning Of…

With all the news of Osama bin Laden’s demise at the hands of U.S. troops sweeping the world, it’s too much an enigma to by-pass without writing about this significant event.  I would like to begin by stating that in the spirit of “closure”, much celebration in the U.S. has been taking place.  Have you been asking questions or going along with the flow? What exactly is the celebration really about? Is it the victory of this particular Administration?  Is it the relief of turning a chapter?  Is it the death of an evil man? Is it that we believe things will finally go back to “normal”? Is there really a reason to celebrate death the way our enemies do?

While it should be noted that hunting down the man behind what has been considered the most profane crime in U.S. history was always a necessity, bin Laden was never the be-all and end-all in our fight against terror. He was merely a leader of one group among many whose goal is one and the same in the advent of promoting a common agenda.  Let’s keep in perspective that while it’s easy to be swept away in the mass emotion, that our fight against terror continues and does not end with his demise.

One of the things that struck me when looking at videos and photos of Americans rejoicing at this justice, was the interspersing of interviews with families of September 11th victims, who once again are brought back to that fateful day with the pain of having lost their loved ones.  It is interesting and insightful to note that their sentiment was far from one of rejoicing, in the fact that this will never bring back their murdered loved ones. This is a solemn fight and a solemn victory, hopefully one of many, both in the past since 9/11 and in future endeavors to put an end to this terror-instilling dogma which has become in some way, our faceless enemy or more likely, our enemy with a million faces.

So is this closure?  Perhaps to some extent.  But like any other race, we are merely at one marker. While we are a people who would much prefer to have happy, prosperous lives, living in harmony with humankind whom we consider our friends and even brothers and sisters, we nevertheless have to remember that we are all a product of the summation of our core beliefs, experiences, culture and up-bringing. We look through our prism once again and view all the facets of humankind and acknowledge these differences, even though they are comprised within the same prism.  If we view all others in our own merits, then we risk stagnation of our own understanding as we keep our heads buried in the sand.

While we feel triumphant at the idea of putting an end to one aspect in our fight, know that the fight was not against one man, but against an ideology;  be assured there will be another and another and another, all in the name of continuing a vow in reverence and truth.   These may seem like virtuous sentiments, yet you might ask, “In whose truth are these acts carried out?” Why then don’t they match in action and integrity with my truth or yours?

When you begin to think multi-dimensionally, realize that there are many things in this world that we do not yet understand and cannot package neatly into our model of the world. Simply know that they are there and that we will gain the understanding when we decide that we finally are ready to see what has been always there for us to see and comprehend. Realize that love is also multi and inter-dimensional, where there are layers upon layers of understanding that may be a prerequisite before we are able to “love the world into peace”.

So in the spirit of closure, remember that the closure of one aspect opens the door to another, something new or different.  What will those doors open to? Be open and prepared for any and all possibilities, because they all exist. Exercise caution and keep your guard up where necessary and know when it’s necessary. Be open and yet be protective yourself and your own values and what’s important to you.  It’s not yet time for that breath of relief.