Today marks the 12th anniversary of 9/11. Twelve years later, and no one in the United States, or Canada, has forgotten the events of that day, or the people who lost their lives. We recall the day and our impressions of it, where we were, how we found out...it is one of those days in history that forever will be etched in our hearts and minds. We will forever remember.
This event was even more transforming, for it changed the world in which we live. I can barely recall what the world was like pre-9/11. I wonder if the people of an earlier generation had a similar feeling. Did they, in the years after the Second World War, pause and try to recall what their life had been like before Pearl Harbor?
Blessedly few are the events which shake us to our very core. Yet in recent memory we have had several. Some were manmade like 9/11 and the Newtown school shooting last year. And some were attacks of nature, like the Boxing Day Tsunami that hit Indonesia in 2004, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011.
If you look back over the last twelve years, it’s easy to see how some people can let fear overtake their lives. Between our own insanity and the vagaries of nature, who can be sure there will even be a tomorrow?
It’s hard to consider, sometimes, that there have been horrific moments in life, all through the ages. There must have been people in every generation who thought that things certainly couldn’t get much worse. I’m sure there have been many who were afraid “the end” was near. Imagine what Londoners thought during the Black Plague. Looking back just as far as the last century in the 1950s, think of the people who built bomb shelters on their property, because they were certain that a bomb was going to drop on them.
Do you remember the “duck and cover” drills in school? Pure fear in action. There was no way hiding under a desk with your hands over your head would save your ass in the event of a nuclear attack. The only result of those drills was to either instill or allay fear—depending on the mindset of the person performing the drill.
The truth is that life has never been certain, nor will it ever be. Things happen—things we never expect and for sure never want. We really only do have this moment that we are in. We can’t prepare for every eventuality. We can only do the best we can do to cope with the things that come our way.
That is a sentiment that you’ve heard all of your life and in many different forms – “carpe diem” – seize the day. Because this day truly is all you can count on having.
It’s a testament to the incredible resiliency of humanity, and mankind’s unique capacity to have faith despite all evidence, that allows for us to plan for the future, to set our course and aim for our goals.
We somehow manage to eventually find a level of normal after each new flood of chaos and tragedy, and continue on our way through our lives, choosing to believe without any basis in fact, that all will be well and we will live to be a ripe old age.
We know these things and ponder these things, even as today, we pause to have a moment of silence and remember those who are lost.