When I turned on the TV to appease a panicked neighbour, reality hit hard with the fall of the first tower. In the days after 9/11, I craved answers, as well as signs that we weren’t on the brink of Armageddon.
On 9/11, Miami Herald reporter Leonard Pitts Jr. won mass attention with an angry letter to terrorists entitled “We’ll Go Forward From This Moment.” From that moment it also seemed his columns on 9/11 evolved into a growing call for Americans to rise above the horror and be the best they could be….to each other.
Two days later his “Hatred is Unworthy of Us” article stood out to me. It offered comfort and inspiration. On the 17th anniversary of 9/11, I checked to see how Mr. Pitts had fared. Turns out, he’s still with the Herald, thriving and continues, as one fan, Connie Schulz (Cleveland Plain-Dealer), says “to challenge us to be bigger than we thought possible, and then shows us how to get there.”
Re-reading his September 13, 2001 column is bittersweet. Remove the US icons and you’ll find much of it is as relevant today, particularly with the rise of the dark side of Populism. Sadly, divisiveness, racism and hatred are even in our own backyard. We need to keep heeding Pitt’s message and find ways to rise above actions, policies and programs that challenge it.
Hatred is as unworthy of us today as it was just after 9/11.
(Adapted from a 2013 post in Eclectic Insights, a Tumblr blog.)
A small voice interrupted our horrified silence with “Daddy, change the channel, I don’t want to watch this movie.” How we wished it was a movie. How could we tell our four-year-old it wasn’t? How could we believe the carnage of 9/11 was deliberate?
From my childhood, I remember the morning they found Pierre Laporte’s slain body —a day after my parents assured me the FLQ were merely trying to make a political point but wouldn’t hurt anyone.
How do you explain evil to a child and reassure them of their safety? How do we recover from these events that erode our basic sense of security?
Even though we’ve all aged since 9/11 and perhaps grown more jaded, the past week’s Boston bombings and destroyed lives are no less jarring.
A recent post from Sesame Street recommends reassuring children that parents, teachers, law enforcers, and members of their community are doing everything possible to keep them safe from harm. Likewise, Presbyterian minister Fred Rogers (aka Mr. Rogers) once said: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You’ll always find people who are helping.’”
After the shock and prayers for those affected, I think many adults took a similar route and searched for stories of incredible goodness rising from horrific acts.
I searched for comforting quotes from Gandhi and others. A “When Life Makes You Think” post from Digital Strategist Hessie Jones took a similar approach.
Just as I thought nothing quite fit the moment, the news feed began to fill with on-the-scene accounts of selfless kindness, often at great risk. Here are links to a few of these stories:
Thank-you to all those who showed us the very best we can be, amid the very worst.