It's hard to believe that this marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. That means an entire generation has come of age since then. For that reason, the desire to reflect on that day seems reasonable, but I also think it's time to evolve in the way that we think about that day. Everyone is different, but for me, I've chosen to avoid all of the retrospectives and TV specials, because it's still deeply troubling, and there isn't a lot of new ground left to cover. I will watch the filmed version of the musical Come From Away, which I believe focuses on human potential, instead of its worst capabilities. As they say in the show, "We honor what was lost, but we also commemorate, what we found."
I wanted to write about what led to that day, what happened after, how it changed things, but I just don't have it in me. I think there is a lot of important historical context that is missing from our general consciousness, in the way that few people have an understanding about the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, the end of the Soviet Union, etc. But it isn't my job to solve that problem, and I'm barely qualified to have opinions about it.
There was a brief period of unity in the world, at least for a few weeks, and I hang on to that as an example of what humans are capable of. President George W. Bush reminded us of the true teachings of Islam, the press was largely sticking to facts and reporting the truth (and people understood what reality was), no one falsely connected Iraq to terrorism, charitable contributions to everything hit records, and people generally gave each other a little grace to roll with life.
It's hard not to fall into a downward spiral of cynicism in a year when we can't do the most basic things to prevent disease and watched a lawless mob attempt a violent insurrection. But in response to something terrible, we got to see just how good people can be. That's what I want to hang on to.