In 2020, Be your Best 9/12 Self
It’s 2020. A new decade begins and what are we faced with? Well, it’s not very pretty. Our society is plagued with mental health issues like depression, high anxiety and loneliness. We’ve become addicted to the technology (our cell phones) that was supposed to improve our lives. Oh yes, it’s an addiction. Studies have shown that the use of cell phones in conjunction with social media produces the same dopamine affect over the human brain as alcohol does for alcoholics and cocaine does for drug addicts. Yes, the technology that we and our children are using on our cell phones is addicting. If that’s not enough, consider that suicide is now the second leading cause of death for adolescents in the U.S. And it’s not just young people dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts need I mention Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade and other celebrities who have taken their lives?
More than ever we see pronounced feelings of anger and opinionated hate being spewed in Tweets, on social media websites and on television. Never before can I remember the opposing forces of ‘who is right, who is wrong’ being so “in our face” as it is today. Why is it that television talk shows today all seem to have people shouting at each other? There is no civility to their debate; instead, each person is absolutely convinced they are right and the other person is not only wrong, but stupid for thinking the way he/she does. Where has our sense of human decency gone? What happened to the basic virtues of respect for one another and civility? And can you imagine what this year, 2020, a Presidential election year holds in store for us once the political ads start? All in all, it paints a pretty painful, ugly picture of America.
Well, we can fix this mess, but it’s going to be up to EACH and every one of us.
Do you remember where you were on 9/11? Chances are if you were 8 years old or older on September 11, 2001, you remember where you were on that day. It was a horrific day in American history, a day we will NEVER forget. The events of that day woke us up to the reality that in life, even in America, there are no guarantees. And as a country lost, shocked, not sure what was happening or where to turn, we made a choice. We turned to God and we prayed. But, what followed 9/11 is what I remember most.
When we woke up on the morning of September 12, 2001, whether we knew it or not, we were a changed people. Yes, we were in pain, we were grieving and we were angry, but we didn’t know exactly where to go with those feelings. Most of us were glued to our television sets to learn what we could about the attacks – in fact, who had attacked us? We were clueless and we wanted answers. And we were a changed people.
As Americans we woke up on the morning of 9/12 with a different mindset. We were resolute, ready to do anything and everything we needed to do to heal our country and to fight for our way of life in America. We stood together, as one! We embraced one another, even total strangers. And yes, we were brave – we prayed. We prayed together; blacks, whites, Latinos, Asians, all faiths, all colors, all creeds, as united people, as selfless people who genuinely cared about one another and our country. It was clear; we were different on the morning of 9/12. We all had a new (renewed?) sense of compassion and caring for one another. We were a changed people.
And maybe, just maybe, we suddenly realized that in this world, God’s world, ultimately, we are NOT the ones in control. That at any moment, evil forces driven by anger and hate could unleash chaos and turn this magnificent world we live in into a very dark, painful place. But in spite of it all, we chose to be the very best people we could be. Quite simply, we became better human beings in the days, weeks and months that followed 9/11. We woke up on 9/12 as the best Americans, the best people, we had ever been. We were a changed people. That’s what I remember most.
So where are those people today? Where are YOU now? Do you remember who you were after 9/11? Do you remember the grief and sadness you felt? Do you remember how you wanted to come together with friends, neighbors, even total strangers to heal our wounded nation? Do you remember being that more caring and compassionate individual that you were then? Do you remember reaching out to strangers in a more loving, caring way? Do you remember how we all felt the need to support the men and women of NYFD, NYPD and all of the first responders in NYC and Washington, D.C. at the Pentagon? Do you remember the strength and courage we drew from the story about the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 once we learned of their valiant efforts to fight the hijackers before their plane went down in Pennsylvania?
My point being….we became ONE. We each became our best person, our 9/12 self, and in doing so, we became the kind of people God wanted us to be and wants us to be. We suddenly found a common cause and we were bonded together as caring human beings who wanted to heal and care for one another. We would survive this attack TOGETHER. More than ever, we were a United People.
Today, however, we are a mess. We have forgotten who we are capable of being. We have lost sight of ‘the big picture’, of who we can be, and instead we are attacking one another. Our politics and selfish interests seem to be all we care about and because of it we are destroying America from the inside out. At the rate we’re going, no one from the outside will ever have to destroy America because we are destroying it ourselves! And quite frankly, I am sick of it!
I’m 68 years old. I’ll be lucky if God gives me another 10-12 more years on this planet (my longevity genes are not good). I have 2 grandchildren and another 7 step-grandchildren. More than anything, I want them to live peacefully in God’s world and enjoy fulfilling lives doing what God wants us all to do – serve others. That’s right, to quote Fred Rogers, “Life is for Service.” God bless you, Fred Rogers.
As we head into this new decade, we all need to come to the acceptance of a simple fact. This is God’s world and we are NOT the ones in control. This is NOT our world nor is it ours to dictate how everything will be done or should be done in this world. We need to look inside ourselves and find our 9/12 Self, that person we were after the attacks on 9/11. If we can be strong, disciplined people and make the choice to do just that, then our great country and the world we live in will hold all the promise and potential it has always held for us. Let’s remember who we are capable of being and become those people all over again. Start today and be your best 9/12 Self.