I’ve been obsessively watching “Friends’ for the last few months. I don’t know why exactly. I’ve seen every episode many times. I think because it feels so familiar and I’m still in such an unfamiliar land. I know those characters. And I know that city.
Almost every episode includes a shot of the World Trade Center Towers. I never noticed this until after 9-11. I’m glad they didn’t edit out all those images. Because seeing the Twin Towers is important. Remembering is important. On the 13 anniversary of the attacks. Or every ordinary day that follows.
We live in a scary time. Or at least it feels that way. Fears over Al Qaeda are now being trumped by the threat of ISIS. How brutal and cruel can people get? The fear of terrorism and the gun violence in our own country is all well… overwhelming.
No wonder we all watch dumb reality TV and sitcoms from the 90’s. We stress over after school schedules, homework and playdates because those things feel manageable. We don’t know to process or solve the rest of the craziness.
My children are now learning about 9-11 in their history books. But I want them to understand the way my own mother wanted me to understand about the deaths of Martin Luther King, Jr and JFK. Those tragic events changed her. They ripped away her innocence, stole her unbridled optimism and transformed a nation.
That’s what I want my children to eventually understand. 9-11 changed us. We felt innocent before that day. We felt protected in our home country. Wars were something that belonged to past generations. But on 9-11, suddenly we were the ones under attack.
As I wrote several years ago… “There are some moments in life you don’t make peace with. They just become a part of you. Your fabric. Your layers. 9/11 is one of those days.”
My daughters know what happened on 9-11. But I want them to know what happens next. We are a country that embraces freedom, democracy and the human spirit. We know how to rise up against hate.
And yes, the evil of the world is overwhelming and complicated. But doing something good is simple.
So I ask you to really take a moment today to remember everyone who didn’t come home that night 13 years ago.
And the ones who lost their lives inhaling toxic fumes at ground zero.
And the ones who died fighting overseas.
Really remember them.
And then in their memory, do something kind for someone else. Someone you know. Or someone you don’t. It doesn’t really matter. And if possible, involve your children in this act of kindness. So they watch and they learn.
Because if we all embrace the good, hate really doesn’t stand a chance.