Friday, September 12, 2014

One nation...divided?

Last night I had some time to flip through channels and see if anything besides Chopped was on TV (I think it's my new favorite show...right after Treehouse Masters). I stumbled upon a special on the History Channel called, "102 Minutes that Changed America," and thought I'd muster up some courage and watch it, because really I owe it to America, or so I first thought.

This happened so long ago, what can I really do about it now? I thought to myself.

So I decided to watch. And continue to watch, despite the emotions that brewed inside. I was overcome by sadness. Sadness for the lives taken on this day. Sadness for the agonizing terror and loneliness that they must have been feeling while trapped on the 78th floor of the first tower. Or in the stairwell. Or under their desk.

But who is they? Each and every man and woman that makes up the they is a very real person.  A person as real as the person pounding away on the keys right now. As real as the one reading this screen, and the ones related to him or her. A human being with thoughts, emotions, desires and dreams. With a family, with people who care about his or her well-being.

It's amazing to sit down and really ponder the notion of they, especially with the events occurring all over our world today and the tragedies still taking place. Each member of the they has a family--whether living or deceased--nobody comes into this world alone. Whether it's mom and dad, brother and sister, grandpa and grandma, friend and neighbor. Each member of the they is has their own network of people who love and care for them. Who would be sad to no longer have that person in their life.

On the special last night there was very real footage of people, documenting the fears they felt, the emotions, the shock, the sadness. Then I remembered the confusion I first felt when I heard the principal over the loudspeaker in seventh grade science. I remember sitting on my window seat all night looking for scary planes in the sky, wondering if we were the next target. Looking back on it I find my fears silly and irrational. And I was in the middle of small town America. Can you imagine the other New Yorkers on that day? The men and women walking down the street, escaping the falling debris? Were they, too, fearing that this might really be the end?

As I continued watching I continued to see men and women, young and old, and hear their reactions to what was going on. "What are they doing now?" I wondered. "Do they look back and remember the fear that they are expressing right now?" It's honestly hard to imagine, but fear makes people do crazy things, and it's painful.

There were recordings of the 911 calls came in and while keeping the confidentiality of the person on the other end, we could hear the dispatcher and the ways that they were trying to keep the person on the other end safe, letting them know that help was on its way.

Commercial break.

Now I see political campaign ads, one person tearing down the opponent. Demonizing them and making them seem "less human" for what they are "really" going to do if elected. "Don't elect this person. He will make your life miserable, you will regret putting him in office. This person is not a good person."

This person. 

This person who also has a reputation, a family, desires and dreams. This person who truly wants to do what they think is best for this state, this country, this world. This person who has neighborhood barbecues, family gatherings and personal hobbies.

This person who lives in the same nation and experiences the same freedoms that we have today. This person who experienced the same fear, the same terror that we all experienced on that fateful day 13 years ago.

This American.

Were we concerned with the political parties and affiliations of each member of the they that comprised each person lost on 9/11? Were we worried about tearing down the other party, blaming them for the atrocity?

The contrast from watching a frightened America begin to bond together in the wake of such an event, every man and woman caring deeply about the lives affected. The firemen watching the flames on the towers, wondering if theirs was the next battalion to be sent in to rescue the men and women trapped inside.  The police officers and EMT personnel scrambling to make sure that each person was okay and accounted for. All rescue personnel doing what they could to ensure each person's safety.

And now we tear down the reputation of our brothers and sisters of our own nation for our own personal profit? I'm certainly not the political type, but I do believe that every individual has a right to his or her own reputation. To watch us tear one another down for personal gain is a sadness, and a tragedy in its own right. We are all grateful to be enjoying the liberties and freedoms that we enjoy today, and although I don't agree with some of the ways politicians do things, I also believe that each man and woman in public office truly does the best that they can, and desires to do good. Even if it's not what I would do.

It is important to remember the they. Each one of us has our own story, our own relationships, our own dreams. Yes it is sad, and it makes us cringe to think about the they that was lost on 9/11. Let us also examine the they we lose each day, each and every individual that is impacted by our words, our actions.

Are we truly, "One nation under God?" Or are we, "One nation, divided"?