DEAR READERS: On this day of national pause, I wonder about generations past when the great tragedies made us reflect on who we are and what we value. Historically, there have always been wars. There have always been people who felt someone wronged them, and as a result, they retaliated. A constant contemplation for me that becomes amplified when we remember the horrors of 9/11 is far more personal than what those sinister people did to ravage our country.
My contemplation is about what we are doing and what we can do to live our national and familial values. Why do I go personal at a time when people are recalling the unimaginable atrocities that befell our nation? Because this is where we individually have control. Given the constant news stories about American citizens who are making choices to hurt each other, I feel certain that on a local, family and even individual level, we can refresh our choices so that they can better serve us and the people around us.
I listened to a sermon recently given by The Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts, from New York City's Abyssinian Baptist Church. He was talking about the notion of being our brother's keeper -- and what that really means. It was a powerful sermon that put forth the idea that it is indeed the responsibility of each of us to take care of one another. And yet, in the hustle and bustle of our lives, too often we forget our loved ones. He spoke about the fratricide that is ravaging our communities on a daily and sometimes hourly basis. He reminded us that some people literally do not remember to check in on their siblings, their parents, their children. He cautioned us that it is our duty to be conscious about our actions and to choose to take actions that will uplift those in our midst in every way that we can.
This notion of being our brother's keeper resonated with me and bubbled forth as I began thinking once again about 9/11. I remember that day, as do all of you. It started as a seemingly perfect day: blue skies, warm temperature. And then the world changed. Yet every day throughout our nation, violations of our humanity occur. And these violations cannot always be pinned on foreigners who hate us, because they are also occurring among us and caused by us. How can we change this? How can we choose to care for those in our immediate families, in our neighborhoods and communities, on our jobs, in our legislatures, all around us? What will it take for us to begin to regularly and consciously make choices that can make it possible for all of us to prosper?
I do not think that these questions are lofty. I actually believe that there is enough abundance on this great Earth that all of us can be comfortable and live to our fullest. To do so, however, I believe we have to make choices that give us space to see that there is enough room for everyone, and that we do not have to push each other out of the way. I do not want another tragedy like 9/11 or the murders in Chicago or Ferguson or Baltimore or anywhere else. We have had enough bloodshed. Let's choose a more peaceful route to fulfilling our lives.