Thirteen years ago today, I sat alongside my boyfriend on the couch of a small apartment in middle America and watched in horror as the events of 9/11 unfolded before our eyes. On that day, we did not work. We couldn't focus with the twin fires of anguish and righteous indignation burning in our bellies and hearts. Sitting hundreds of miles away from everyone we knew, we could do no more than to hold one another close as we tried desperately to reach our loved ones and assure ourselves that everyone was OK.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, we as a world all banded together and declared that we would not forget. We would learn and grow and work together to ensure such a tragedy would never happen again. Oh, if only it were that easy.
Thirteen years later, I sit here in my home. A mother. A wife. I cannot help but look with great sadness upon the intervening years. We have not forgotten, but we also have not learned. We have not grown closer together. Even looking back just a few short months, the evidence of our failures begins to mount: shootings, missiles downing planes, beheadings, violence, death and abuse. We sit in a broken cycle of hate with no end in sight.
Thirteen is a fateful number. It can be a harbinger of terror and ill-luck. But it can also be a sign of portentous change.
On this, the thirteenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I'd like to propose that we put the terror and horrors of these years behind us, once and for all. That we take it upon ourselves, every single individual, to make a portentous change in how we see and interact with others.
We need to take a stand against those who would have us fear. We need to put down our weapons, both physical and emotional. Instead of focusing our efforts on climbing to the top, we should use our hands to pull someone up to stand beside us. We need to work together to create a world where we can send our children out with confidence that they will return back to us safe at the end of each day.
Most of all, we need to instill confidence, love and understanding into our young people. We must show them with our own actions just how powerful acceptance can be. We must help them see the beauty in our differences as well as the strength of the ties that connect us all together. We must teach them how to weave communities, how to reach across the dividing lines, how to grasp the hand of the person across from them to pull them close in an embrace.
One day, someday, the time will come when things will change. It must come or else we are doomed to tear each other to bits. Let's make that someday be today. Let's work together to create a sea of light and love that will cut through the gloom and darkness.
Each one of us has the capacity to be the heart and the mind of society. In honor of those we lost, in respect of the sacrifices of so many, go out today and be the love. Be the light and illuminate the pathway to a better future, so that next year we can come together to celebrate the first anniversary of peace instead of another anniversary of loss.