SOME THOUGHTS AFTER SEPTEMBER 11

 

Like everyone else, I feel deeply affected by the events that took place on Sept. 11, 2001.  And so I am posting here some thoughts about that tragedy.  I hope you will bear with me...

 

Text Box: More thoughts:

At times like this, we can easily feel overwhelmed. But each of us can do something to help. It may be that we have a special skill to offer or money or donating blood. 

But other things can make a difference too. Each of us can reach out with a little extra kindness to those we meet--especially those who are angry or targets simply because of their race/ethnic background. Even a smile can make a difference to someone who feels as if nothing good will ever happen again, as if the world is only filled with hate. 

This is a time to remember that for every act of outrage, there is an outpouring of love and selfless sacrifice as well. With each smile, each act of kindness, we help to remind each other that there is still good in the world, this is still a place with caring people. And that matters. It matters immensely. Because if we give way to despair, if we do not reach out to each other with kindness and everyone we meet in the coming days, then the people who did this will have won. 

It is in standing together, in showing kindness, in beginning to repair the emotional damage done, that we each can help to fight back.
Text Box: And I have these thoughts for my fellow writers:


WORDS MATTER

	In the light of Tuesday’s tragedy, I have heard people say they do not feel like writing.  And I understand that feeling—we are all numb with shock.  But we are writers.  When we do not write we cut ourselves off from something that is an essential part of who we are.

I know the impulse to say:  It’s only writing—it’s not important.  That’s often the reason our writing gets pushed aside and given the least priority in our lives.  But I would suggest that writing may be one of the most important things we can do right now—not instead of donating blood or giving support or helping in other ways, if we can—but in addition.  

We are writers.  We can give voice to the pain and horror and fear and grief and courage and strength we are feeling and seeing.  As hard as it is, I would suggest we all try to write about this time.  I do not think it will be over quickly.  And it will be important, later, to have a record of what went on.  When children and grandchildren ask:  What was it like when the towers came down?  It may be the words we write that will provide the answer.

We are writers.  When we put pain and grief into words, we help others understand their own pain and grief.  When we write about fears, we give shape to what others may only hazily understand and when fear has a concrete shape, we can begin to take steps to guard against what it is we fear.

When we write about courage and honor and strength, we provide role models for those who may face challenges in their own lives—now and in the future.

When we write about joy and love and goodness, we provide concrete reminders that pain and betrayal and tragedy are not all there is in the world—even if it may feel that way for the moment.

We are writers.  When we write we tap into something inside ourselves that can help us cope in times of crisis.  When we write, the words we shape may help others cope as well.  We give comfort and hope where there might otherwise be none.  We give shape to the emotions others might not know how to name.

So I encourage you to write—even if it’s only a page.  Perhaps not on your current manuscript, but write about something—perhaps about the tragedy unfolding.  Because words do matter.  
we fear.

When we write about courage and honor and strength, we provide role models for those who may face challenges in their own lives—now and in the future.

When we write about joy and love and goodness, we provide concrete reminders that pain and betrayal and tragedy are not all there is in the world—even if it may feel that way for the moment.

We are writers.  When we write we tap into something inside ourselves that can help us cope in times of crisis.  When we write, the words we shape may help others cope as well.  We give comfort and hope where there might otherwise be none.  We give shape to the emotions others might not know how to name.

So I encourage you to write—even if it’s only a page.  Perhaps not on your current manuscript, but write about something—perhaps about the tragedy unfolding.  Because words do matter.
Text Box: The world changed on Sept. 11.  I am seeing discussions in many places about fear and prejudice and I wanted to share some of my thoughts....

We cannot help being afraid now--perhaps even afraid of people we would not have feared before Sept. 11.  And odds are that the events of that day have intensified all our fears about all kinds of situations.  

None of us wants to become racist.  We would rather not face some of the fears we may hold inside.  But the first step in dealing with those thoughts and fears is to recognize how this IS affecting us.  To honestly face how it is altering our perceptions and reactions so that we can think through what it is we want to do, how we want to be as individuals.  Only when we confront these fears can we begin to let some of them go.

Like many others, I am making a point of kindness right now--especially when I see anyone who might be seen as a target for a backlash.  That is something all of us can do.

It is, I think, okay to be cautious.  To be kind but ready to act if it turns out that kindness was misplaced.  To be alert to danger while remembering and holding in our minds and hearts the determination not to place blame where it does not belong.  Anger and hatred and evil come in all shapes, all races, all nationalities, and all religions.  So does good and kindness and true honor and courage.  

I heard on the news that these hijackers started last spring taking flights to try to determine which ones to hijack.  Then they rode those flights many times before Sept. 11, getting to know the crew's habits, etc.  And I find myself thinking:  they got to be regulars.  Odds are they were friendly and smiled at the flight attendants.  The crew probably thought of them as "safe" because after all, they'd ridden the planes many times and never done anything wrong--before that day.  

I say this not to scare anyone, but to point out that caution isn't foolish.  But we can remember that there is a difference between sensible caution and blind condemnation.  There are circumstances where fear and caution is not only understandable but wise. The challenge, for all of us, is to decide:  How do we handle situations that call for caution without becoming people we despise?  

I think, perhaps, it begins with making a conscious choice to look at others as individuals, to make the choice to see beyond nationality or religion or race to see the person inside.  And then, on an individual basis we can begin to look for the indications of whether someone is trustworthy or not, a danger or a potential friend.  And if we can do that, then out of the horror of Sept. 11th's events, this world may truly become a better place.