The Right To Live
Not all truth is comfortable. One such is the truth, the deepest truth about a most precious “commodity” for some and a way of being taken for granted by others.
Whether the late Nelson Mandela was being inclusive in the statement quoted above or he was speaking to his personal history will not be debated. What is important is the understanding of freedom that he offered. Today, September 11, has gone down in history, as one of the darkest days in the history of the United States of America. It has been 14 years since many across the world were transfixed to their television screens watching as the air crafts crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre. The world would later learn that this was not an accident but part of a larger plot by hijackers, representing anti-American sentiments, to make a violent statement to the Government of the United States, by inflicting terror on the citizens of that nation.
Out of The Ashes…
It was indeed a sad day in US history and an even more gruesome one for the families of those 2,977 people who were killed at World Trade Center’s twin towers, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Today, thousands would have gathered to remember those whose lives came to a violent end almost a decade and a half ago.
Living in North America as I do now and before in Jamaica, the 9/11 attack, as it has become known, is in my memory bank but, with my philosophy and outlook on life, not with tears, outrage or feelings of revenge – not even hatred for those who planned, coordinated and executed this heinous and coward of an act. I do not watch the replay and listen to the blow-by-blow reviews of the day. Instead, my eyes turn to the opportunity, the window to freedom that these attacks opened.
In the immediate aftermath of the attack, a good number of the people in the vicinity of the crash sites came together to help each other. They rallied, rolled up their sleeves, ran into burning buildings to rescue their fellow citizens. During the days following, the reports of heroism, self-sacrifices made by strangers for strangers and the pictures of the outpouring of love one person to another were astoundingly beautiful. And that is what many like me will choose to focus on today and in the years to come.
The Beginning of Freedom
Each of us has the right to express our thoughts, our beliefs and even our fears however we choose. The rule of law laid down by societies across our world sets the limits in which these expressions of freedom must be tempered and aired. Those who were behind the 9/11 attack have and will continue to argue that it was their right to express their feelings about the way the US has conducted itself in the world in the way that they did. The people whose lives were cut short and the families and loved ones left to grieve them would naturally disagree.
Whatever its cause, however it is expressed this I know – hatred is hatred.
Our week on this blog runs from Saturday to Friday and the weekly roundup post highlights the top 3 most read and/or commented on posts of the week. Thinking about how to handle today’s roundup given the history of this particular day and my practice of not focusing on loss but the gift in every situation, admittedly it was a struggle. Coming to my laptop and opening the statistics of the week, that tension eased. It is never my intention to cause harm, deliberately offend or hurt anyone or be the source of contention. Yet, someone might take offense no matter the purity of my or your heart.
This week, four articles again made the Roundup. What is interesting about them all is that at the core of each the message is simple – personal freedom and choice-making. My struggle ended as I noticed that the 9/11 attacks indeed held a lesson about freedom – to express and to respond.
A couple of the “best” posts were directly related while two had concepts of personal freedom at their core:
#1. “Why You Should Embrace Being Alone” – the most read post of this week introduced the conversation of enjoying one’s own company and allowing who you are to express itself from the quietude. Although not directly related to world issues and the questions of freedom of expression of religious, cultural or political beliefs, the article directs us to the starting point of all things. As human beings, living in a diverse world, we have fallen into the trap of homogeneity – wanting, needing and even demanding everyone to be “like me.” We have lost sight that we are all unique in our own ways, even within the same culture, and our expressions of that cannot be curtailed without consequences – to self and unfortunately sometimes to others, deliberately or unintentionally. Read the full article here.
#2. The second most read post was “5 Ways To Split Expenses Without Splitting Up.” Again, this was not directly related to flying air crafts into buildings or bombing cities or making any kind of political statement. However, at its root is the question of living together in unity, having the freedom to decide as a community (or couple) what is in your best interest and doing so without causing harm to anyone within that circle. Katelyn Roth closed her article asking whether you would rather have a nice evening out with your mate, enjoying your togetherness or be bickering and worried about who will be footing the bill. That is one of the many arguments we have on an international scale – and not enjoy each others’ cultures, foods, music, talents and gifts. Read the article here with that in mind.
#3. “Are You Enjoying Personal Freedom Where You Live?” and “How To Stop Saying “No” To Your Freedom” tied for third place in this week’s roundup. These are the two articles most related to the question of freedom and where it begins. They are the ones that are also most connected to the opening Mandela quote, “When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.”
So many of us have become “outlaws” in our personal lives as we have been denied the right to live by our design. Women across the world find themselves in this predicament – having to choose between who they intrinsically are and the box that their culture and society have built and nailed them in. Read both articles against that background of wide-scale penning in of people, limiting their expressions of uniqueness and talents and the impact of them deciding enough is enough.
Love Is My Religion
On this blog, I am the quasi-philosopher – and probably not a good one in your opinion. That is okay. My role, however, is to start deeper conversations – not to stir up trouble but to cause growth in minds and of hearts. My deepest prayer on this day is that those whose loved ones were killed in the 9/11 attacks and the ones following, carried out as reprisals, may finally find the peace “that passeth all understanding.” May they continue to open the window, creating doors to the freedom, to love that was so clearly demonstrated in the hours, weeks, months and now years after that September morn in 2011.
May we as a world move more deliberately, intentionally and finally on the path to Love, with trees of tolerance, peace, justice for all, community, respect, equality and freedom lining the way.
May this day be brighter than yesterday and may tomorrow be clearly filled with abiding hope.
On this the 14th anniversary of 9/11, my wish for you is Peace and Love.