It’s September 11th and that means something. 11 years ago, it was just another day at the beginning of the school year. Now, we say “September 11th,” and we all become a part of a tragic national memory.
With this being the 10 year anniversary, there is a lot of talk about “never forgetting.” And, so, I’ve been thinking a lot about what this means to me.
Right now, this childhood idiom sums it up best:
“Never forgetting” is about gaining some knowledge and then holding onto it. Before 9/11 many of us didn’t know what it felt like to be under-attack, genuinely afraid and uncertain about what the next day would bring.
But I know a lot more, now.
- Now I know what it feels like to be woken up to explosions, fire and smoke…to my mom crying, watching a plane fly into the second tower on live TV, and then, not45 minutes later, hearing about another one crashing into the Pentagon. – I felt scared, vulnerable and under attack.
- Now I know what courage looks like. – It’s embodied in the firefighters, police-people and paramedics who rushed into crumbling buildings with the hope of saving others.
- Now I know what it was like to be united as an entire country. – Caring for those in New York as much as our neighbors next door.
Now, I, as a 21st Century Americans born in an era of extreme privilege, have insight into what people all over the world go through every day – being afraid, targeted and victimized. I also know what I need to do in order to respond to these injustices courageously. Rush in, with head and heart, to help.
And now that I know, I have an opportunity to take action out of empathy. And this is when the best things happen. This is when organizations like MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving”), Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity are created. This is WHEN and HOW people make a difference.
So, I guess if knowledge is power, empathy is motivation.
Today, we are an entire country of people who can do good out of a deep love for others because we have a shared experience and live in a common reality.
It might sound trivial to relate this to VW Bus ownership, but I see a lot of similarities. I think a lot of bus owners will tell you that once you own a bus, you are suddenly connected to everyone who has, does, or ever will own a bus. It is an experience that binds you in an inextricable brother & sisterhood. If you see a fellow campervan owner broken down on the side of the road (or on Twitter :-(D) you are compelled to pull over to help. Because you KNOW how it feels. And you want to make it better.
It’s this spirit of VW unity, concern and love that makes people like me want to write about it. Because it’s real. And it feels like a model for the whole wide world.
I hope, I never forget that injustices go on everyday. That if I see someone who is afraid (of abuse, of their government, of zealots), that I will try to soothe them. Because I KNOW how what it feels like to be scared.
That if I see someone who is a victim (of domestic violence, of hunger, of racism), that I will try to bring justice. Because I KNOW what it feels like to be a victim.
That when I see someone who is powerless (in their relationship, in their school, in their society) that I will try to give them control. Because I know what it is like to feel vulnerable.
It’s the same reason that obliges us to pull over when we see one of our “own” broken down on the side of the road. We can’t just drive by because when we see them, we think, “Man. I can relate.”
Now, when we see people in trouble, people who are suffering, we can’t just pass them by… because we’ve been there. We know. And, man. Can we relate.
I will never forget, because now I know.
What about you? What does “never forgetting” mean to you?