We Are All Connected

by Alicia M. Rodriguez

It's about midnight on September 11, 2001. This morning when I woke up I assumed the day would be filled with the normal stuff of my life - walking my son to school, checking e-mail, coaching, working on the launch of my site. The important things? After 9:00am it all changed, forever. Like every other American I looked on with horror as I witnessed the massive devastation of one of America's icons, the World Trade Center. I couldn't help but remember my visit there last year with my family and uncle, taking pictures from the Observation Deck. This building teemed with life, with people working, with tourists. How could this happen? And then, news of the seemingly invincible Pentagon, penetrated by an airplane, not so far away. How could this happen? What does it all mean?

The World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked. But we were all attacked. American innocence, or ignorance, complacency or arrogance, depending on who you speak to, was attacked. We have now come to know on a personal level what other countries have known. This is not TV showing pictures of some far off land, of people we supposedly have no connection to. These are our friends and neighbors. We experience the insecurity of one day, one moment, the threat of violence, the dissemination of long-held values. In one moment, our world view was shattered. Terrorism had landed in the USA, "the land of the free and home of the brave".

Was this our wake up call? I try to separate the pain of watching the video clips and ask myself, on a higher level, what is this about? How will we define ourselves as individuals and as a country in light of this barbaric act? How will we respond? Will we look for vengeance so much so that it blinds us to any light there may be in the darkness? Will we harbor hate so that it fills us as it has filled those responsible? What has driven another to plan and implement such devastation of life and how might we as a country have played a role, perhaps through our own actions? How can we become a land and people of integrity, each and every one of us, so there can be no foothold for this kind of act? What can one individual do, me or you, to contribute to regaining peace in our outer and inner world? What do we tell the children?

I am humbled. I share this experience with the people in Bosnia, in Somalia, in Paris and Tokyo, in Ireland and Colombia, and elsewhere in the world. And I am proud. There are extraordinary people in our country who rally together, who pray together, who will not allow this act to diminish us but instead will rise to redefine themselves and their country. They will "wake up" to the knowledge that each moment is precious, they will pay attention to what really matters, their family, their friends, their well-being, another human being. What will you do? Who do you need to forgive? Who do you need to hug or tell about your love or pride or affection? What has been unsaid that now needs to be spoken?

Someone asked me today, 'did you know anyone there?' I recognized the question for what it really was. Were you connected to anyone there? I wanted to say 'yes' when I realized this. It doesn't matter that I didn't actually KNOW someone there. What mattered was that I WAS connected to everyone there, in New York, at the Pentagon, everyone in Bosnia, in Ireland and in so many other places. They could be my family, my friend, my relation, and they are. They are my neighbors, countrymen and women, my fellow human citizens. Things will never be the same - I hope. I hope that we will never again take for granted our democracy and our freedom. I hope that we take time for the people that matter most to us. I hope that we will never watch or read about atrocities in another land and distance ourselves from it. I hope that the next time we have an opportunity to help someone, we don't consider our convenience as much as our gift.

What will you do today, that will make a difference? How will you define yourself within this tragedy? What Phoenix will you discover out of the ashes of terrorism? If you have lost someone in this tragedy, my heart mourns with you. We have all lost our fellow men and women and children, and have been doing so for a long time in so many places in the world. It's just that we haven't known this in the way we know it today, September 11, 2001.

Alicia Rodriguez, M.A.
[reprinted with permission]

Alicia Rodriguez, M.A.
EveryDay Epiphanies


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