Finding Home: Purpose and Hope on 911
This is a message about the lessons from 911 that more people need to hear. I say what I say pulling from the wisdom spoken by my grandparents, parents, mentors and enlightened friends. I hope you’ll pass on their gift to me with the same care that they showed in giving it to us. Today will be better for us if we share our stories, so while you listen, think of what the crises in your life have taught you. If you feel comfortable sharing, tell us about a crisis or path of recovery that changed your life in the comment section.
We are talking about crisis on 911 at a time when our nation is remembering how one day 20 years ago changed all of our lives. But the opportunity to take this pause comes at a time when equally life-changing events have just happened to so many, in equally traumatic fashion.
As you observe and reflect the significance of big things in your life today, I hope you’ll take a moment to help a friend, or to help yourself, to see hope of recovery from crisis and trauma. For all humans, and even animals, trauma shapes brains and bodies. It is physically life-changing, either in neural pathways or in bodily scars, or often both.
Everyone’s traumas are different, but that feeling that you can’t un-see or un-know something that happened in your life is unfortunately universal. Sometimes the best way for a person to survive trauma is for them to take action as a way to make sure it won’t happen again to others. That’s a great way to turn something bad that happened into something good for the world. Taking care of that desire to change things in a healthy way looks like mentorship, or communicating your requests for awareness, or even peaceful assembly, which looks like coming together in safe and healthy ways, from support groups to marches.
Unhealthy expressions of that sentiment that the world needs to change can come in the form of violence. Yes, not all violence is misplaced desire for positive change in the world. There is senseless violence that comes from mental-emotional imbalance, but that’s the rarest kind. More often, there’s cycling violence that happens when a person repeats behaviors that happen to them or around them. But we’re seeing more and more violence that is trying to stop something that a person does not want to see happening in the world ever again. It’s activism violence.
Considering the perpetrators’ root reasons can lend new understanding about why this kind of violence would happen. Why people lash out during otherwise peaceful protests. Why war breaks out in countries. Why terrorists go as far as killing themselves in the process of making a statement, using other human lives as a spiritual pen and paper for a letter to the world.
Knowing why violence happens helps us take a guiding glance at our inner selves. If much of that violence happens because the perpetrators experienced traumas, then what are we capable of doing when put through enough trauma?
This day gives us a chance to pause to consider which measures we will choose to express our own reactions to our own unique traumas. Consider the issues that the entire globe has felt in increasing measure over the past 20 years.
People have seen their families suffer not only hunger and other human need, but the pain of being driven to betray each other due to the perceived need for money. Entire nations are told that globally the United States government or money-loving culture drives that imbalance of priority that tore their family apart and deprived their family of connection to basic food, water and shelter. How does one fix the offenses brought upon their family by a major world power? This isn’t commiserating with terrorists, but it is taking a moment to consider another human being’s motivations that aren’t too much different than our own if we were in their shoes.
People have experienced violations of their wishes in the medical system, so they are expressing the resistance now that they wish they could have successfully expressed them. How does one fix an entire medical system? We can consider differently why half of our nation takes risks with their own bodies in ways which threaten the future of humanity.
Then there’s the violence we’ve seen people express as civil unrest in the past decade. People have never had the chance to be part of something bigger than themselves until they show up to a protest or rally. Consider what they suddenly are faced with assembled with other people “on their side.”
The nearness, the closeness to other people who know what it’s like to be forgotten, disregarded, ignored, spat upon, forced into difficult decisions, all because they don’t have the right kind of education, the right economic position, the right age, the right gender expression, the right physical appearance. The nearness, the closeness to people who know the real life effects of disregard on their or their families’ health and safety because their families have been starved to death in rural remoteness, or hung from trees for nothing more than trying to live free, or escorted unarmed by Heavily armed military units without food or water, abandoned with nothing in an unfamiliar land. The nearness, the closeness next to people who also know can bring on a sudden realization of the power of potential within us in groups… And we all know that power corrupts.
So rallies and protests can put us in a precarious position. Sometimes when we are faced with that inspirational power, we make the wrong decision. We opt to damage as we were damaged. We choose to threaten the livelihood or very existence of the people who we may feel are the problem in that weak moment.
The real cause that needs fixing is the disregard that led to the abuses felt by us or our families.
The actual fix is regard, respect, compassion. Have you ever felt regarded? Respected? Have you ever felt the warmth of kindness from another person? When given the choice to feel that, versus what you felt when you were harmed by another person or by a group of people, which feeling would you rather have? What reality would you rather have in the world around you?
The answer to so many problems, my dear sibling, is that journey of recovery. The journey one step at a time out of trauma that the whole human race must walk.
The answer starts with your compassion, your regard and respect. Share it by example. That’s the most effective way to teach. It’s your responsibility to take up this task if we want to survive the next century as a species. That’s how important this is, and how important you are.