Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Sunday Musings 9/11/11 (10 years on)…

1) GPS. Where were YOU? 9/11/01 is the equivalent of “Where were you when JFK was shot”, or “Where were you when Pearl Harbor was bombed?” We chatted about this at dinner chez bingo the other night. I was in the OR with a full schedule when the first plane hit. I came out in time to watch the second one hit, and then was between cases when the second building went down.

Never forget.

2) Plain talk. 9/11 is almost routinely called a tragedy, especially now, 10 years on. This is pretty much the only way I’ve seen it described in all types of media, mainstream and otherwise. Well, it is, and it isn’t.

The killings of nearly 4000 people on U.S. soil was tragic for each one of them, and truly tragic for their friends and families. But a tragedy? I say no. A tragedy implies some element of fate, something about which no single person could have stood up and prevented. Think the Tsunami in Japan. Mudslides in South America. An avalanche or wildfire out of control. THOSE  are tragedies resulting in death.

No, 9/11 was filled with a tragic loss of life, but the only fate involved was so banal that if beggars the definition of fate: did you go to work that Tuesday morning? The deaths of 9/11 are the direct result of pure, unadulterated EVIL. They represent nearly 4000 killings. Purposeful killings. Mass murder perpetrated on civilians so far removed from any war zone that to even call them “non-combatants” is a meaningless over-reach.¬†Calling 9/11 a “tragedy” cheapens the word, cheapens the loss, puts the soft glow of unavoidable fate on what was nothing of the sort.

9/11 was EVIL. Call it what is was.

3) Press “up”. Funny, after 10 years you’d think we’d have heard all of the “hero” stories by now, huh? Apparently not. Seems there were some folks who did some pretty heroic things who just never got around to telling anyone. Like those 2 Air National Guard pilots who scrambled after the plane that eventually went down in PA with UNARMED JETS. Yup. No missiles or bullets on board. They took off with complete knowledge that they would not only have to face the specter of shooting down fellow citizens, but “shooting down” actually meant using their aircraft as missiles.

It’s crazy, even after 10 years, to think of how many heroes stood before life’s elevator or stairwell and pushed “up”. Safety was “down”, out, anywhere but “up”, and yet up they went. Cops, firefighters, and two unarmed fighter pilots who just happened to be a little higher when they chose to go “up”. These men and women, on the ground floor at several Ground Zeros, have been followed honorably by thousands of other American heroes toiling anonymously, and SUCCESSFULLY, to prevent other evil doers from killing other Americans.

I’m still awestruck, 10 years on.

4) Epilogue. So, what did you take away from 9/11? Did anything change? Anything stay with you? Couple things for me. The first thing, regrettably and to my great embarrassment, is that it took a tragic event like 9/11 for me to really look at a huge swath of Americans I’d never really paid much attention to before. This would be Police Officers, Firefighters, and any variety of men and women in the Armed Forces. This was still 4+ years before I discovered CrossFit mind you, but our collective respect for, and willingness to acknowledge, these men and women is a small positive outcome that I believe persists 10 years on.

I had an epiphany of sorts 10 days after 9/11. The particular trigger (I really disliked a certain golf course) was trivial, but I was primed by 9/11 to be open to the “Aha!” moment. I discovered that the things that make me unhappy make me more unhappy than the things that make me happy, make me happy. Seems kinda simple I guess, but it was like a bolt from the blue. I realized that, once identified as such, things that made me unhappy could be avoided downstream. You don’t always get to choose only the stuff that makes you happy (Polyanna doesn’t live here anymore), and you don’t even necessarily get to always choose to avoid stuff that makes you unhappy, but it’s amazing how often you CAN if you try just a little. A life changer that I was able to notice because, well, I was thinking a whole lot about life after watching so many lose theirs.

I’m not saying that anyone else should have had this particular epiphany on or about 9/11, or ANY epiphany for that matter, but I do wonder, is there something that changed, something you’ve carried with you since that day. Since 9/11/01? 10 years on?

I’ll see you next week…

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