Today is 9/11 … 9 years later.
It’s the anniversary of a painful, horrifying, tragedy.
We’ve responded in a number of ways . . .
We’ve been shocked. We’ve grieved. We’ve cried. We’ve screamed. We’ve felt anger. We’ve blamed. We’ve proclaimed ourselves good and others bad or evil. We’ve gone to war, killing and maiming thousands and thousands. We’ve created yet another round of both blatant and insidious prejudice. And more . . .
We were terrified that day. And still are today, no matter how many layers of other feelings we build on top of our terror. And no matter what we try to do in the world outside to hold our terror at bay.
We were terrified that day. And still are today. No matter how many wars we fight to defend ourselves against that terror. No matter how many national policies we legislate or create through our courts to defend ourselves against that terror. No matter how many trillions of dollars we spend to defend ourselves against that terror. And no matter how many years pass. No matter how many anniversaries of 9/11/2001 we commemorate.
And why won’t these things we attempt work to defend us against that terror?
Very simply because … only a very small part of that terror is in direct response to the actual events of 9/11/2001.
Most of that terror is terror that was triggered in each of us on that day, terror that lived inside each of us from our past, terror that each of us experienced somehow, sometime, someway, in response to some experience when we were very young children.
We buried that terror as children, because it was too much for children to bear.
But if we keep burying it as adults . . . and if we keep defending ourselves against experiencing it . . . it will nevertheless stay alive, though buried, inside us. It will nevertheless keep getting triggered by other terrifying moments and experiences. It will nevertheless keep driving us — beneath our awareness – to take actions in our lives and make choices in our lives that are dysfunctional, unhealthy, and even destructive. We will find new and even more harmful ways to defend ourselves against our own terror . . . ways which end up creating terror themselves. Like war, like hateful prejudice, like addictions that do unimaginable damage.
This year … on the anniversary of 9/11 … let’s do the one thing that can truly help us to heal … individually, nationally, and globally. . .
Let’s each explore and begin to discover the ancient terror 9/11 stirred up in our minds, hearts, and cells.
Let’s each commit to heal that terror from long, long ago so it doesn’t compound the terrors of current times, so it doesn’t contaminate our decisions and our choices about terrors that we need to respond to healthily, wisely, and heartfully.
When will we ever learn?*
© 2010, Judith Barr
*From Pete Seeger’s 1961 song, Where Have All The Flowers Gone?