With each passing year, the raw jolt of the memory of 9/11/01 seems to fade a bit more. This year I feel the “fade” more than the “jolt.” I know I’m not alone.
So I went back to the archive of a piece I wrote for the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, in 2011. It revolved around inspiration from this quotation: “Love is a light that never dwelleth in a heart possessed by fear.” For so long, the emotion underlying memories of 9/11 seemed to be fear, and this drove further destruction. For families, it might have been easier to avoid the conversation. But motivated by love, understanding can spring forth, action is fueled, unity is spurred, and creative, new ideas emerge. Embracing global citizenship and the many virtues it implies, can offer a positive beginning. I want to honor this day through active remembrance and the practice of love. (Honestly, I already feel better, just making this statement.)
One strategy can be through active practice of global citizenship. Here’s what it can start to look like (excerpt from the 9/11/11 article):
“Not all families will have a direct link to disparate places and cultures in the world, or can get their kids on a plane to learn about other places and peoples firsthand, but you can expose them to the myriad cultures around the world, starting with the resources in your own communities. As you open your minds and your lives to other ways of doing things, you’ll probably get to know yourselves and where you came from better; and possibly deepen the bonds within your own families along the way. Raising children to have a global mind-set could be the biggest step you and your family take toward building a more peaceful world—and it all starts at home, with love.
To break down this big idea, consider these simple steps (choose one – don’t start trying to do all):
- Start at the dinner table: Invite a family to dinner for the first time, especially if they come from a different culture or faith than you. Perhaps your children are friends, or you work at the same office, or you volunteered together at the library.
- Host for a longer period: Consider hosting an exchange student in your home. The connection you’ll make to them and their culture will last throughout your lives. My family recently did thisand it had a profound impact.
- Learn about Interfaith Initiatives: Across the U.S. thousands have been inspired to unite for 9/11 and beyond. See the listing of events here and get in touch with your local interfaith network to support understanding throughout the year.
- Support education programs that counteract extremist recruiting of the vulnerable. See programs like Beyond the 11th, founded by two women widowed on 9/11/01, and GlobalGiving, with a menu of pre-screened projects, to support courageous initiatives in Afghanistan and beyond.
- Help your local school use existing technology to learn about the world and humanize connections made online. Primary Source’s teacher education, Global Nomads Groupvideoconferences across continents, World Savvy and iEarn’s student engagement projects, andePals pen pals and safe social networking all offer excellent starting points.”