I recently published an article on HubPages that discusses leadership. It was inspired by Seth Godin, who has come to be a significant inspiration to me in a very short period of time. If you’ve wondered why it is there are so few leaders in the world today and why even the notion of leadership can make ordinarily bold people nervous, check out How To Be A Leader.
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8 years ago today, what came to be understood as one of the most significant moments in American history took place. A country that had grown complacent in the notion it was an ivory tower, learned that tower was made of glass. Who can blame people for believing Fortress America was invincible? Afterall, this was the only nation on the planet to use nuclear weapons in war, and twice at that. And that seemed to work out pretty well… Didn’t it? A little rationalization here, and a little remorse there, and the world kept turning, the taxes kept being paid, and the votes kept being cast.
The fact that America had been in a relatively perpetual state of war up to September 11th was not really recognized. For most Americans, it truly seemed a random occurrence. It was without cause, without explanation, without justification. It was a time of destruction, not introspection. It was the day everything seemed to change. There might always have been some lingering fears in America… Fear of flu, fear of killer bees, fear of medical expenses, fear of police. On that day, the old fears were forgotten, and the new fear became a sort of state of mind. The realization of our vulnerability and mortality came crashing down upon us, while we watched those towers falling on repeat, each time feeling the unreality of the situation gradually solidify into a new truth.
Sure, cars were statistically more dangerous than terrorists, but somehow that was little consolation. We wouldn’t have gotten on a plane in those following weeks if Disney bribed us with free tickets. Even the “Magic Kingdom”, was seemingly more like an impending death trap than a vacation spot. We were conscious… Conscious of danger being everywhere, but some places more than others. We were suspicious of everyone, but some people in particular. I remember seeing a woman in the mall wearing a berka, and despite my best efforts, feeling she was about to explode at any moment… I wanted to be away from her, and I wanted to be near her at the same time… To show that I wasn’t one of “those people”. I was on a plane on September 10th, 2001. One day before 9/11. I have not been on a plane since… And whenever someone I love travels on one, part of me prepares for the inevitable. Yes, eight years later, I am still a hostage to some of that fear.
No matter your politics, or your religion, or your ethnicity, you could not be unshaken by the events of September 11th. In fact, I think the world was moved, not just the U.S., and not just North America. It seemed like before September 11th, the question of terrorism hitting home for America was one of “if”, not “when”. Now one can’t help but feel the clock is counting down… And I suspect I am not the only one that sees the date on 9/11, and wonders if today will be the day we are reminded once again.
Terrorism is an issue that now effects all of us. As disturbing that reality is to handle, it is also an opportunity. We can now see more than ever, the insanity of war, and the terrible terrible nature of violence on and hatred of our fellow man. We are a family on this planet, and we need to unite with the majority, who are good and sane individuals. The cycle of vengeance needs to stop before it consumes us. A nation will never put an end to war, only the individual can do such a thing. Connect with humanity on those terms, and we can avoid the terrible generalizations that have led to justification for the most tragic events of our history.