Post 9/11 America was something to behold. As the nation grappled with grief, disbelief, and newfound fragility, I remember a wave of pride, mingling with my fear.
I remember hanging the flag we rushed to buy and put in our dorm window, and the sounds of “Proud to Be an American” echoing through the courtyard of our campus. I remember how our shoulders pressed together as our hands gripped candles at vigils, hugs in the middle of our hurried walks, as we wandered through the days and weeks after the attacks.
WE felt, in those moments, TOGETHER.
I also remember wondering and being told that the terrorist attacks of September 11, would change us. We could not undo our knowing. We could not undo the knowing that our vulnerability as a country really meant a new level of acceptance for our vulnerability as a people. And we could not undo the knowing of what it meant to feel like we were in something together. The knowing of what it felt like to feel…together.
There was fear, sadness, worry and wondering. There was hand holding, and hugging. There was prayer and conversation and comforting and hope. There was a buzz of rebirth in the days after the destruction. And there was US. There was all of US.
Often when we look back, we drag forward things that are no longer relevant. We focus on the heaviness of the load we are currently carrying, and how light the old one was. We spend time longing- and not living. Living in the past serves the old version of US. The heaviness stalls our progress and leaves us hitting the rewind button to change what was, instead of determining how we can do our best with what is. Living in the past, or willing it to breathe, keeps us from the gift of our transformation- the struggle, the acceptance, the growth, the dreams and excitement of what we are becoming.
November 2, 2020 is a world that many of us never imagined we’d find ourselves in. However, I do think it’s important to consider what we have already lived through, as a sign of what we are capable of, and what we want to choose not to repeat. I guess I want more than we have ever given each other. I want a better US.
While many of us joke about the dumpster fire of 2020, this just may be a year that we look back on and are thankful for. It has caused us to shred our ignorance about race and justice and equity. It has offered us a chance to talk about what is important in our families, and make good on the promise of spending time together. It has beckoned us to come forward for tough conversations and determine the worth of the what we are hustling for. It has tempered our rush with the thoughtful cadence of connecting with neighbors, supporting those in need, and thinking outside of ourselves.
2020 has been a call to action not only for us, as individuals, but for US as a nation. It started as a whisper, grew to riots in our streets, burning in our forests, and overcrowding in our hospitals. It is now sitting before us as a call to action- a call to reunite and redefine US. It’s a call to connect through our united cry of having a place for every person. A place for all of US. A place that is safe- for hand-holding, and hugging and dreaming, and believing and voting.
Tomorrow is the election. It’s a moment that many have dreaded and many have begged to come. It is a moment that will undoubtedly bring relief and joy for some, and worry and sorrow for others. No matter what, I pray that we do not lose sight of the work that we have done in 2020. It is a time that reminds me of the uncertainty and unrest of post 9/11 America. It was moments of intense pride and togetherness, that revealed patters of fear and mistrust- leading to the most divided and segregated America in the history of our country. No sitting President made that happen. We did. In a search for safety and security, we wrapped ourselves in sameness. And forgot that different, diverse and dynamic is what makes our lives rich, exciting and full of growth.
Whatever tomorrow brings, whether it is November 3, 2020, or January 1, 2035, let’s not allow our fear, despair and judgement lead us to further divide us from what we want and need most. We need each other. We need hands to hold and mouths to discuss and opinions that challenge our growth. We need minds to shape and neighbors to embrace and US. We really need US. Let’s not undo that knowing. Let’s start there.
Be brave. Be kind. Be open to a new knowing.
Be open to US.
Mother, Wife, Teacher and Believer.