There is a lot of attention given to September 11th. Rightfully so. It was a day that changed the way we see the world. As a country, we are still looking through the lenses of fear we were given on that day 16 years ago. We can’t help but remember the event which stunned and traumatized us on a day of painful memories. The attack on our country still fresh in so many minds, and yet, there are many younger people who do not remember at all. Despite the T.V. specials and solemn observances the event fades further into history each year. I imagine it to be like Pearl Harbor to the previous generation, who remember with vivid clarity the day, while those of us who came after have to listen to the stories to understand the depth of the pain and the sense of being violated. Just as that day ‘which will live in infamy’ so many years ago, September 11th is our generation’s day the world as we knew it, changed forever. There was a lot of bad on that day, and each year we rehash it to somehow try to make sense of it all. We walk away from the remembrances with a knot in the pit of our stomachs, and confusion as to how we ever got here in the first place. Talking heads pretend to know the answers to the unanswerable questions, which usually require some form of blame placing. It is our human nature to try to figure out the whys of hard things.
For example, this year September 11th has been overshadowed by the hurricanes Harvey and Irma. I have read articles that blame God, president Trump, the liberals or the conservatives. I have heard the most farfetched reasoning for these storms imaginable. It is as if we name what caused the storms, we can somehow reconcile the damage they caused, to benefit our own agendas. What a sad state of affairs. How petty is it to use the suffering of people to promote your own viewpoint? Some of the explanations I have heard are conspiracy theories that act as if the wind and rain obey human theories and plans. Others put God at the center of “teaching people a lesson” by bringing down his wrath in the form of killer storms. Pardon me while I gag. In the meantime, while the press is crying alarmist, and differing parties are pointing fingers, and the church is calling down God’s wrath, people in the path of the storms need help. My guess is they do not mind where it comes from. It does not matter what color, what faith, what political affiliation, or what socioeconomic class the hand reaching out to you is when you are drowning. When your world is turned upside down into survival mode, help is help. In fact, bonding through shared trauma minimizes our differences, and shows us just how similar we are to one another as fellow humans.
On September 12, 2001, the helpers came. Just as Fred Rogers said they would. Helpers of all nationalities, religions, and political affiliations. On September 12th, this year, the helpers have come again. They are those who put down their agendas in order to pick up tools. They are those who set aside their differences in beliefs to rescue others. They are those who run into the aftermath to express compassion. THIS is the America I know. The UNITED ones.
The word unite means ‘to join together’ coming from a Latin root uni- meaning ‘one.’ We act as one when trials come. In Huston, the best of us showed up. Helpers who gave up their own comfort to share the pain of others. Helpers who sacrificed their own safety to bring safety to those without any. In Florida, there are those who went straight into the storm to insure others would not be trapped. The helpers. They are everywhere. They outnumber the politicians and celebrities. They have more impact than judgmental pastors and weather theorists. Helpers don’t need a platform. They don’t seek the spotlight. They simply help…in whatever way they can. There is power in their selfless humble efforts. There is unity which plants hope in us again as a people. We are not too far gone. We are not as divided as all the talking heads want us to believe, because when it comes down to it, we are family. Human family who hurts when others hurt. Who help when others need help. September 12th, the sun came up and the helpers showed up and the pain of the 11th started the long healing process. Once again, the 12th of September finds us helping and healing one another in the aftermath of trauma. And, THAT, my brothers and sisters is why we are called the UNITED States of America.