Sunday, 11 September 2011

9/11 - The Tenth Anniversary

I insisted to myself repeatedly this week that I would not write anything about 9/11, and yet here I am.  So much of my thought-scape this day has been taken up by this monumental anniversary and its fallout, that my resolve not to comment has been pretty much bulldozed away, much like my side yard.

Questions keep popping up, the biggest one being, "What have we learned?"  I struggle to find an answer, any answer.  The best I've come up with so far is that we have learned to be afraid.  I don't find that very helpful nor encouraging.  How are we a better people than we were ten years ago?  I don't believe for a moment that we are any safer and I can find little evidence that we are truly any wiser.   The world is as vulnerable as it has always been.  We are as human as we've always been -- generous yet also stingy, compassionate and also indifferent, forgiving but also vengeful, loving when we're not hating, capable of great good but just as great (and even greater?) evil.

personal devotions, Mumbai 2011
© April Hoeller
I believe our greatest freedom is that of choice.  I can choose the better part of whatever a day brings, or not.  By a fortunate accident of birth, I got to be brought up and live in a good land and I am privileged to live well here.  Earlier this year my husband and I travelled to India.  I was surprised and utterly amazed by the joyful energy I saw in the faces of Mumbai's poor.  The people I saw in the streets, living under the bridges worked hard to make the best of their day and their space in it.  We were told by our guide that the day always begins with an act of gratitude, whether it be a flower or garland brought to the temple, a spice offering at the neighbourhood shrine or a prayer and incense in one's own sacred space. 
Perhaps the best thing that I can do on this 9/11 anniversary is to re-dedicate myself to beginning each and every day with gratitude and then consciously choosing the better part whenever I can.  Perhaps this is what I have re-learned from 9/11 -- Life is precious. Handle with care.

Flower offering, Mumbai 2011
© April Hoeller

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