Two dates 9/9 and 9/11 that define my life

 My boys and I just watched "Mr. Holland's Opus" together.  One of those movies that I can watch over and over.  There is so much to be learned about appreciating what a good teacher can do, what music and art can mean to the development of children.  There is the need to remember that our children are not what we want but their own people with faults and gifts that we may not have asked for.  

In it there is a very touching scene about one of the students that dies in the Vietnam war.  My sons were very moved by it, as was I, especially at the tragedy of war.  They agree that war is "stupid".  As we sit at the edge of over a decade of wars, at a Middle East that is quickly going on fire, at more wars than ever were in the Cold War era and on the brink of what could be yet another folly at the expense of young lives it really makes me sad and angry that we cannot focus on what is important. Important like education, art, music and reminding each other to not worship with intent to judge but to appreciate the gift of life, regardless of where you think it came from. 

This is a very difficult week for me.  It starts with an amazing event.  It starts with people from all walks of life coming together on their day off, at their expense to gather to help eradicate breast cancer.  The Komen race shows us that one person can start a movement for good.  They stumbled in recent years with a leader who forgot that women's lives include women's choices for those lives and that Planned Parenthood is a healthcare provider.  They recovered and moved course back on track.  They went back to being what they have become; a beacon of light for women and the lives they touch as they struggle with a terrible disease.  They have raised money and awareness but most of all they raised our humanity and reminded us that we can gather and be a force for good and that we care about others.  That is my faith - my faith is in our humanity.  

I do this race with my whole family and a lot of my friends, who I have known forever.  Some of us have seen the mothers of our friends, or their own families, devastated by this disease and we walk so others, hopefully, will walk not in "memory of" but to celebrate "survivors" of this disease.  I cry at the beginning of the race when I see the people around me.  There are so many walks for too many disease that we can do but we choose this one as a family.  I am humbled by the positive vibe of all that is good in people.  It reinforces my belief that most of people are good, very good and have the same goal - to make the world better for being in it.  

This week though is also 9/11.  A day that for me still is raw, where images from that day bring tears to my eyes.  It is the day my city, a place that has a lot of my soul like an old friend, and my friends were attacked by what is the worst of humanity.  I cannot stand the arguments from ignorant, vile people who tell me how other places were attacked - I feel for them but that does not make this one any easier to bear as I am sure it does not make the pain for people in other places to bear when they are attacked.  Trying to out kill one another is not a discussion I want to engage in.  For me 9/11 is not a museum, a ceremony or a place to visit.  It is a fracture in my heart that pains me every time.  

The date of 9/11 makes me look at the sky and remember that moment when I saw the first Tower on fire. However, over time I have made a choice.  I choose to remember 9/11 not for the criminals that flew those planes into NY/DC but for the bravery that was shown in all of those cities and in the air over Pennsylvania. I choose to remember the Towers as they were, not the best in architecture but the the passion of what people can accomplish in a building.  I think of my friend who died there and honor his bravery rather than give thought to the cowards who chose to kill so many.   There is the dust and the silence in my memory but it is the time when we of all colors, religious beliefs came together to help one another and remember that we are first united in our goodness which was millions of people strong to the 19 who choose to bring death instead of remembering that to worship any god you should strengthen life.  

This week is the best of humanity and a glimpse at the worst of it.  This week helps me remember that I choose to fight against death instead of support it with military strikes.  This is for my sons who deserve to have schools that teach music, art along with other subjects instead of fighting for dollars that may be spent on weapons.  


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